Tag Archives: Navratri

Sensitive to the changes of season

Yoga practice and gardening have much in common. The one thing that stands out is that one becomes very sensitive to nature and its forces. This is the time of year in Hawai’i when it is brutally hot and humid. The air is so thick, that senior teacher Joan White was giving a workshop this time of year and said the air actually had “weight” to it. However, there is usually one day in the month of October where the weather changes radically from hot and humid to constant rain. Just before that is the optimal time to plant seeds in the garden. You have to time it just right. Every night I am aware of any temperature drop and feel of rainfall. Once it starts, it doesn’t usually let up for a month or so.

To prep for this auspicious time I prep my garden area which has been overgrown with grass with a hand sickle. I cut back the grass and let it decay for a while which makes a mulch bed for the yet-to-be-sown seeds.

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Coming back from my trip a month ago has left me swamped with catch up paperwork at my regular job. Not to mention caregiving duties and surprise visitors. With the stress, the time change, and the weather, my immune system has lowered and I caught bronchitis. Lo and behold, at the peak of my cold, the time came to sow seeds.

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Not to be deterred, I plotted along and scattered all the seeds I’ve been storing for this occasion. Here are a few. I am trying a few “red” varieties this year like burgundy okra (seen above) red malabar spinach and red Kyoto carrots.

With all the seeds finally planted, I went back into my sick mode and saw a doctor. Turns out I have bronchitis. I have found a good remedy is Korean tofu stew. I usually can’t stand in due its intense hot temperature and spiciness, but its all I have been craving.

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As far as classes, I manage to teach as best I can in my state. It is very difficult to teach when you are not feeling well. However, I do feel that somehow teaching has gotten “easier” since I’ve been back. A lot of my students who have been a way for a while have been returning. There are a lot of injuries and issues, so I have to divide my students into groups. I never had to do that much before now.

We are on the second night of Navratri, and I can feel the grace of Brahmacharini, one of the nine manifestations of Durga celebrated during this time. She was said to be resolute and did tapas for 5,000 years until she met her goal. I always enjoy celebrating and trying to keep up with the time difference between here and India to “catch” the right goddess on the correct night.

This is an auspicious time. A time of sowing, a time of celebration, a time of season change, and a time of recovering after a long journey.

Many blessings.

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Happy Dussehra!

Today is an auspicious day in the Hindu calendar as it marks goddess Durga’s victory over the demon Mahishasura after nine nights and one day of battle. My wife and I were not born into Hindu faith, but we have been observing Navratri for the past two years of the festival. I believe it has helped us withstand the demands we have faced over the past two years with her father’s passing and new caregiving duties of her mother-in-law.

I like how Navratri makes you focus on each aspect of Durga’s shakti. She comes in many forms and all have a distinctly feminine power. She is giving, forbearing, fierce, forgiving, bestowing, and patient among other qualities.

The nice thing about this holiday is it celebrates the feminine as a greater power than masculine. Given the above qualities of Durga’s shakti, this is really true. There are “masculine” mantras and there are “feminine” mantras one can chant. For example the “masculine” ones to Ganesh, Shiva, Vishnu are great for a bhakti practice sustained for a long period of time, but the “feminine” mantras contain the shakti that gets things done with quickness and precision. Very much like my wife and me. I like to sit and think about things, but when the decisive action needs to be made, like Durga, my wife gets it done while I’m just watching with a dropped jaw. I think many men would not admit this, but know it’s true about their female partners.

The last manifestation of Durga during Navratri is Siddhidatri, or the one who bestows the eight powers mentioned in the third Pada of the Patanjali Yoga Sutras. She is said to have even given Shiva his powers. If one is ardent in one’s practice, siddhi-s are bestowed upon the practitioner.

I find that these festivals and rituals give deep meaning to my yoga practice as they have done for others for centuries. Even simply reading about them ties up a lot of loose ends one may find in studying the Yoga Sutras or Bhagavad Gita. Yoga has such a rich and deep history, to not recognize these other parts of it aside from asana practice limits one’s ability to make these connections. And only practicing one limb gives only one flavor to a practice that is supposed to contain all the flavors of the cornucopia.

Happy Dessehra/Vijayadashami!