Hello dear ones! After some time of deep reflection and settling into this exciting 2020 (hope you all had an amazing transition into this year of vision!), I am happy to be back and blogging once again, this month presenting you with a post about a topic that has intrigued me for a few years, and now lies very close to my heart as I immerse myself deeper in the world of divine femininity: female mystics. My ever-growing fascination with the divine, the metaphysical forces underlying the dances of the universe, and all the ways in which I experience this throughout my life as a woman dancing through this earth plane fuels my interest in mysticism. There have been many male and female mystics throughout the course of history who each add special value to the practice of spiritual contemplation. In honour of the rise of the divine feminine, this post is dedicated to female mystics, while reorganizing the conversation in which spiritual and religious structures have typically been male-dominated and as a disclaimer: all while honouring all male mystics equally.
What is understood under mystic? Mysticism refers to the conscious practice of spiritual ecstasy that goes together with the experience of revelations of universal truths and transcendence. Etymologically, the word mysticism has its roots in the Greek word mystikos, meaning “secret, mystic, connected with the mysteries,” and/or mystes, meaning “one who has been initiated” (to that which has been hidden or obscured from human knowledge or understanding. Mysticism is in many ways related to and found in religions, stories, myths, magic, and New Age movements. The definition of this term has changed and evolved throughout history. Contemporarily, the term is used to refer to an ecstatic union with the Absolute/Infinite/God that is described as a mystical experience. “The accepted definition of mysticism involves (a) experience of unity with all beings; (b) a powerful influence on the mystic’s way of thinking; (c) distinct knowledge conferred by the experience; (d) time/space distortion, and (e) a sense of sacredness” (Devlin, 2016). “True mysticism is active and practical, not passive and theoretical. Its aims are wholly transcendental and spiritual. It draws the whole being homeward, but always under the guidance of the heart. Living union with this One . . . is arrived at by an arduous psychological and spiritual process.” (Evelyn Underhill, 2018).
In the Middle Ages, the term unio mystica was often used by Christians to refer to a spiritual marriage with God/The Holy Spirit. In the Medieval Ages, there were several female Christian mystics who experienced mystical visions and revelations such as: Angela of Foligno, Angela Merici, St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Brigid of Kildare (known for her generosity for the poor and associated with the Celtic goddess Brigid), St. Catherine of Siena, St. Douceline (established beguine/spiritual communities in France), Elisabeth of Schönau, St. Gertrude the Great, Hadewijch, Mechthild of Magdeburg and St. Margaret of Cortona (known as the saint of the falsely accused and other perceived underprivileged groups in society who are often shamed). Some of these saints were also authors and became known for having written about their mystical revelations. For example, St. Hildegard of Bingen was a composer, philosopher, writer and visionary whose spiritual awareness was based on what she called the “reflection of the living Light;” and Julian of Norwich who was an ascetic and author of Revelations of Divine Love: the oldest known book in the English language to have been written by a woman.
Besides Christianity, as mentioned before, mysticism is found in other religions. For example: Merkabah Mysticism and the Kabbalah are branches of Jewish mysticism, Sufism is the Islamic branch of mysticism, many sadhanas (spiritual practices) such as Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra are considered mystical practices related to Hinduism, Buddhism with its view of Nirvana as an attainable transcendent reality, and Taoism, originating in China as a mystic approach of seeing the world as a perfect balance of Yin and Yang. Mysticism was narrowed in the 19th century with the rise of rational thinking and individuality, but continued to live on in spiritual communities and is now in fuller revival.
Mysticism and yoga are connected: various types of literature (religious, philosophical, scientific and medical) about kundalini are closely aligned with literature about mysticism. “The mystics may not have understood the Hindu concept of kundalini, but they certainly were aware of the process they were going through…..the Christian mystics may have known much more than we are giving them credit for, but may have been hampered in explaining what they knew. Perhaps this was because their tradition had no extensive psychophysiological terminology such as we have today. Perhaps the mystics could have been more precisely expressive of their experiences if they had loved in an age of free expression, open investigation and honest investigation of their most sacred secrets….The mystics has learned to sublimate their sexual drives, and as a result, were fulfilled in a manner that science is only beginning to investigate…The writings of the mystics and the yogis give credit to the theory that there is a spiritual force, working within and through the biology of man, expressing itself via the medium of the mind…their writings show that they were trying to describe the transcendental insights they were privileged to enjoy….The Christian mystics experienced a tremendous force, which they termed the Holy Spirit- that has striking parallels with the traditional descriptions of kundalini” (Yoga Journal, January 1979).
“Female yoga practitioners, known as yoginis, have practised yoga for millenia. Archaelogical evidence points to the practice of yoga as a part of ancient fertility rites. Medieval miniature paintings depict yoginis wandering the forest, playing music, and as ascetics sitting with disciples and animals in meditation. These female mystics played an important role in the spiritual life of the community and wielded a certain amount of authority” (365 Yoga, J. Rappaport).
FEMALE MYSTICS THROUGHOUT THE ERAS
As I dove deep into researching this topic, I found that the list of female mystics in history is almost inexhaustibly extensive. I have selected the most prominent ones and added the most relevant highlights.
Rabi’a al-Adawiyya (d. 801)
One of the founders of Sufi mysticism, she loves God for His own sake instead of because of a longing for heaven or fear of going to hell.
Umm ‘Abdallah (9th century)
Sufi mystic and scholar who received deep mystic knowledge through appearances of symbols and visitations in her dreams. What is known about her is only known through the memoirs of her husband (The Beginning of the Matter), who describes some of her mystic experiences. They shared a spiritual relationship in which they supported each other and treated each other as equals, which was unusual for their time.
Sun Buer (1119–1182)
Chinese Taoist Priestess, poet and author of A Personal Tao. She left her husband and children at the age of 51 years-old to further her spiritual studies, and founded the Taoist lineage called the ‘Purity and Tranquility’ tradition. She is known as one of the few female Taoist ‘Immortals,’ a title that stands for spiritual realization and occult mastery.
Clare of Assisi (1194-1253)
She was St. Francis’ student, nurse, assistant, and in time founded her own order. In 1212, she (like many other female mystics did) escaped an arranged marriage and dove into the mystics of life. It was after she heard Francis of Assisi that she experienced a big spiritual awakening. They shared a beautiful spiritual friendship. When writing about her mystical experiences, she speaks of eternity, love, and light visions. She had a deep relationship with nature, and wild animals had a tendency to become soft and gentle in her presence.
Margery Kempe (1373 – 1439)
Mother of fourteen children, this woman’s spiritual journey started when she gave birth to her first child. She was interested other medieval female mystics (such as Julian of Norwich and St. Bridget of Sweden. After her fourteenth child, her husband and her embraced a life of chastity and went on serval pilgrimages to sacred spots in Europe during which she experienced mystic states.
Julian of Norwich (d. ca. 1416)
Author of a theology in which she writes about divine motherhood and mutual intimacy flowing between God and the soul which is healing and restorative. She celebrated divine love as an infinite flow of toward creation and believed that the macrocosmic universe rested In this mutuality of love.
Teresa of Avila (d. 1582)
Throughout her young adulthood, she found prayer difficult, until at the age of 40 she devoted herself more committedly to her spiritual practice.She describes mystical union as the soul’s marriage to Christ, in which spiritual love dissolves all differences between lover and beloved as they merge together like a drop of water merges into the ocean. She taught that spiritual love is about compassion for others, and not self-interest.
Hildegarde of Bingen (1098-1179)
This woman was truly multitalented: she was a healer, writer, composer and theological critic. Having experienced visions throughout her life, it was in her early forties that she truly grasped the spiritual meaning of the scriptures she had been studying.
Joan of Arc (1412-1431)
She was a true warrior. When she was 12 years old, she saw visions of saints calling her to drive the British, who were occupying France, to give back the crown to the French prince. She was met with much societal resistance and marks a moving hallmark in history, which is why so many playwrights have been made about her trial. She was burned at the stake at the age of 19 and declared a saint many years after.
Helena Blavatsky (1831-1891)
Often called the mother of New Age Thought, she travelled the word seeking spiritual lessons after escaping a marriage in which she was unhappy. After receiving many spiritual insights, she wrote Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine, and also founded the Theosophical Society. Though some have called her a fraud, there is no question that her mystical revelations have greatly influenced the New Age movement. (Devlin). She moved to New York in 1873, established herself there as a medium and psychic, and connected many themes from all the world’s religions, esoteric teachings and new science ideas which in many ways laid the foundations of the New Age movement which in time led to the rise of Western metaphysical trends.
Mirra Alfassa (1878-1973)
She found herself deeply engrossed in meditation from a very young age, and grew up experiencing mystic visions, trance revelations, and past life experiences. She studied the Upanishads, Yoga Sutras, and the Bhagavad Gita. She is the co-founder the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and is adept of several types of advanced yoga. Her teaching to the world can be summarized as: Do Yoga!
There are many, but it seems the most well known one is history is Mirabai, the Hindu saint (d. 1550). Passionate lover of Krishna and devotee of Vaishnava teachings, she is a Shiva worshipping mystic who sings and writes about the divine love for Krishna she feels in her heart. Having escaped a forced marriage (her husband died at a young age and she was commanded to commit suicide – a legally common practice at the time -, an order which she refused under the argument that she had received different orders from Lord Krishna), she represents a special force in women’s empowerment and emancipation and reached states of enlightenment.
There are also many female mystics from the Buddhist tradition, such as Pajapati (600 B.C., Buddha’s Stepmother and first Buddhist nun), Sukhasiddhi (11th century Tibetan Buddhist Dakini), Mugai Nyobai (13th century Japanese Buddhist nun and first female to head a Zen Order), Yeshe Tsogyal (757-817, Tibetan Princess and Buddhist Master, author of her autobiography Lady of the Lotus Born. She had a relationship with Padmasambhava, who introduced Buddhism in Tibet), Machig Labdron (11th century, Tibetan Buddhist teacher, who taught the Chod: aiming to transform the four ‘demons’ tha thinder enlightenment), Jomo Memo (13th Century Tibetan Terton, “discoverer of teachings;” she taught about overcoming ignorance and is considered to be an emanation of Yeshe Tsogyal)
Morrnah Nalamaku Simeona (1913-1992)
Hawaiian Healer who introduced Hawaiian healing tradition of Ho’oponopono to the wider world, a holistic healing modality that has had great healing benefits and a boost in the personal for many people.
FEMALE MYSTICS TODAY
Today, there are several female mystics who are considered gurus/spiritual leaders. From Hindu origin there are for example Ammachi, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, Mother Meera, Mata Amritanandamayi and Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati. There are also various western female spiritual teachers such as Evelyn Underhill (Christian); Joanna Macy (Buddhist), Starhawk and Vicki Noble (pagan) and others such as Marianne Williamson and Teal Swan (holistic/metaphysical).
ECSTATIC LOVE AS YOUR PATHWAY TO THE DIVINE
Some inspiring contemporary quotes written about female mystics feel as a beautiful way to begin concluding this post.
“The greatest gift female Mystics can give to Humanity and the World at this time, is to model the Truth of who they are, and through example, blaze a Path of Love back to God for everyone to follow.” (Patricia Cota-Robles). “The most important ‘Truth’… is one that is absolutely and totally unprovable: we are all sons and daughters of the Living God. We will not find this truth in a particle accelerator. We can only prove it to ourselves by direct experience of the other side.” (Carol Huffstickler). “The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” (Emily Dickinson). “An ecstatic love for the Beloved, or Divine, unifies feminine mystics across multiple wisdom traditions and lineages, and now the bliss and sense of wholeness these remarkable women experienced can nourish your own heart and soul” (Mirabai Starr)
I hope you have gained some fresh inspiration from these female mystics. May the contemporary interspiritual movement in which we find ourselves serve as a force to awaken the healing energy of the sacred fire of the feminine within us all, melting the heart of a world which is all too frozen. Let us all say yes to the ecstatic pathway of love toward the divine in our daily lives. Let us all claim the beauty of spiritual desire and allow it to transform the world.
It is now time to awaken the feminine mystic within you, and start to see the Divine in everything around you as you move through this world with devotion, stepping on this Earth – Our Mother – with the reverence She deserves.
Satyam is the second of the yamas in Yoga from Patanjali’s Sutras, and it stands for truthfulness in Sanskrit. This same principle is also found in other religious texts such as the Old Testament (from the Bible), Jewish Scriptures, and the Holy Quran. In the justice system, such as for example in court or when bearing witness to authorities like the police, it is considered a crime to falsify testimony, or simply said, lie.
When we break down the Sanskrit word satyam, we get sat = what is, true, real; and yam = restrain, or ya= “ness” or “coming from” (Sanskrit is a fascinating language that is vibrational in its essence and can be interpreted in various ways). So put together, satyam is keeping to what is, or trueness. There are other Sanskrit words that being with “sat,” such as sattva (purity) and satsang (true company – usually this is when spiritual communities gather to receive spiritual teachings from a guru). This all helps us to understand the term satyam a little better – it is that which is true, pure and unchangeable.
The nature of reality is a huge philosophical topic on which many books have been written on. What is real if we are living in a dream or illusion which yogis call maya? Although an existential question in itself, there is no need to complicate things. There is great beauty and wisdom in simplicity. We all have an inner knowing that knows when we are being truthful in our expression, and when we are not. This inner guidance is wise and to ignore or deny its existence is to work against ourselves and our expansion. Satyam is about being truthful simply because it’s the right thing to do more than it is to benefit anyone personally.
Satyam all beings with being honest with ourselves: practicing self-inquiry, questioning our (often self-limiting) beliefs, and seeing things clearly as they are (rather than through a lens clouded by wishful thinking). When we are honest with ourselves and feel grounded in our own truth, it becomes easier to be honest with others. We have already heard it before: the truth will set you free, and indeed, living a sincere life is liberating. Keeping up with lies is truly exhausting and disempowering! Questions you can ask yourself are for example:
• What does it mean for you to be truthful?
How do you honour your heart’s desires?
• In what ways could you be more honest with yourself?
• In what areas of your life is it easy for you to be truthful, and in what other areas is it challenging?
• Have you kept a certain untruth in your life? How was this affected you? What can you do about it to surpass and transcend it at this point?
Satyam serves our spiritual awakening because it also helps us to identify with what we are (that which remains and is eternal: atman – our spirit), and that which we are not (our thoughts, our emotions, and everything that makes up the passing nature of our ego). When we slow down in our lives, we are better able to tap into this eternal essence rather than live in a constant state of reactivity to external triggers.
Satyam is something that we can practice on and off the mat. On the mat, we can observe what comes up for us, and be true to ourselves by honouring what is available to our bodies on any given day rather than trying to push it and end up hurting ourselves. Satyam on the mat in class is communicating to your teacher if you have any injuries, whether you want corrections or not, and practicing full acceptance of where you are at: honouring what is. Paying attention to your breath helps a lot, as our breath tells us a lot about how we are feeling! Off the mat, it is a constant practice that requires mindfulness and observance in how we live our lives and how we show up in our relationships. At the end of the day, observing the yamas in daily life is all about integrity, and infusing our lives with purpose and meaning. Setting an intention every morning to be truthful can be very helpful in this regard. Align your heart with what comes out of your mouth to ensure you are always compassionately truthful. How? Before speaking, you can ask yourself: is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it the right time? Think really about what “truth” means to you and what is more important here is checking in with yourself regarding your intention. Why are you telling someone a certain “truth”? If it’s to fulfill your ego (eg.to prove you’re right, to make yourself look better) reconsider your intention, and put yourself in their shoes.
Ultimately, both on and off the mat, satyam is a lot about being able to be present with what is, and acting from a place of deep consciousness and awareness. Ultimately, satyam happens naturally when we act from our Highest Self. Consciousness is like an infinite ocean. You can read 101 books, and do 1,001 meditations and still not grasp it all. The path of truth is never ending, and there are so many different levels of consciousness present on this Earth dimension! We will never really be “finished” discussing consciousness or reach a conclusion about it, and there’s a great beauty to that! We can access consciousness at all times. It is what we are. Ultimately, it is all already within us, we just need to remember, and find the keys to access the treasures hidden within.
When considering satyam, we need to remember that this niyama is preceded by ahimsa (non-violence), so that in our expression of truth we are called to be compassionate with others. Besides the relative connection between ahimsa and satyam, we can make links to the other yamas and niyamas. For example, when living in truth, or living with presence in what is, one realizes that what is is not something to possess. Living in satyam naturally brings you to a state of aparigraha (non-attachment, the last of the niayamas). Drawing from my personal experience the closer you observe the yamas and niyamas in your daily life, the more blessings seem to arrive “out of the blue.” We can best use the understanding of the yamas and niyamas as tools in our daily lives to help us get through this spiritual experience as human beings!
The greatest part of spiritual practice entails finding a path that leads us to discover the truth that underlies the phenomenal world, and the truth of our own self. No matter how enlightened we believe ourselves to be, there is always something more to discover. Something more to learn. Something more to grow and transcend through. The knowledge of the truth, the attainment of Nirvana – this is the supreme blessing.
With all this being said, Asato Maa from the Upanishads beautifully sheds light on the spiritual value of living a truthful life:
Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya
Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya
“Lead me from the unreal to the real
From darkness (ignorance) to light (knowledge)
From death to immortality”
While Yoga & Astrology are both different subjects of study and practice, yet they have many similarities as they work on common principles of elements, chakras and energy. Astrology is like the sister discipline of yoga They are both useful tools in daily life, which are also very ancient and have stood the test of time as are still very relevant up to this day and age. Both astrology and yoga help to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, others and the world around us. Through our personal agency, we can use the science of astrology to move through life with consciousness – awake, not asleep.
It is worth a brief mention that besides astrology, there are other divination methods are such as the Tarot (layouts of cards mirroring a certain situation) and the I Ching (a Taoist approach depicting the fluctuations between yin and yang [hyperlink yin yang blog] through 64 stages) which we can study to help us navigate through life too. But for now we will focus on the connection between yoga and astrology.
Astronomy gave rise to astrology, around the 6th century BCE – a time during which mystics and philosophers would gather to study astronomy and its effect on our human lives, which led to the emergence of the science of astrology and its spreading across the world. Star signs have ancient origins and still are relevant today. Zodiac signs are archetypal images which show our innate potential, as well as the areas in life where we tend to have difficulties in, which are often those aspects of ourselves we deny or reject
ZODIAC SIGNS & ASANA
The practice of Hatha (Sun-Moon) yoga cultivates a synchronization with the celestial cycles, it is a natural practice that aligns our being with the Sun, Moon, stars and cosmos! “Ancient yogis knew that Ida and Pingala align our bodies with the Sun and Moon and attune us — if we’re willing — with all of creation. That explains the term hatha. Ha-tha yoga in actuality means Sun and Moon in Sanskrit. Ha = Sun. Tha = Moon.” -Diane Booth Gilliam
As planets influence areas of your life, you can practice asanas to strengthen certain parts of your physical body related with planets which have an effect on your emotional body. This way, you can go through a beautiful process of transformation through which you alchemically transmute energies and turn weaknesses into strengths. Each astrological sign corresponds to a part of the body, carrying with it a universal resonance which highlights the dominant qualities of the zodiac signs. This way, we can make the most of these qualities by developing them further (and attuning to some we may feel we lack – I personally like to learn from all the zodiac signs and try to practice embodying all of their beneficial qualities!) Although some appear to have gotten lost in tradition, there are corresponding asanas for each zodiac sign:
Aries – warrior 1 (fighter)
Taurus – bullpose (grounding)
Gemini – downward dog – (quiets inner chatter)
Cancer – cobra – (works on the heart area)
Leo – Simhasana, lion pose (what more to say!)
Virgo – nabhyasana, nauli kriya (gut feeling)
Libra – balancing asanas – trikonasana, natarajasana. (weighing/balancing out)
Scorpio – scorpio pose (obvious one!)
Sagittarius – the archer – the adventurer, hips & thighs (warrior arms up)
Capricorn – the gate – (works on the knees & skeletal structure)
Aquarius –eagle pose – (steady gaze, steady mind)
Pisces –fish pose – (another obvious one, also works on the feet)
There is a lot to be said and studied about astrology. For example, the Sun signs depicting ways to discover yourself and others and your main tendencies; moon signs represent the hidden power of your emotions. Then there are the houses, each of which is home to each sign of the zodiac. Houses break up the sky in chunks; and they represent areas of your life. Moreover, you will often hear astrologers speak about conjunction (planets in relation to each other) and transits (the constant movement of planets in relation to their position at the time you were born).
Creating a comprehensive interpretation of an astrological chart requires some basic knowledge and understanding of astronomy (the planets and their qualities), the ability to create connections, and intuition. As a sidenote, this is why in a way, reading astrological charts can be considered an ajna (third-eye chakra – about vision and understanding) – vishhuddha (throat chakra- about intuition, aesthetic intelligence and intuition) practice.
There are features of astrology that are similar to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which mention yoga citta-vritti-nirodha – the cessation of the turnings of the mind, to open oneself up to union with the Higher Self and perceive the divine within (kaivalya).Yoga helps to bring our impulses under control. It helps us to bring more awareness about our structural behavior so that we can redefine happiness – the search for which defines much of human life!
ASTROLOGY AS A MAP
We, like cellphones trying to connect to WiFi, are searching for a connection that is more permanent rather than temporary. As much as Yoga teaches us how to tame the mind, this is practically impossible to do without reorienting it towards something higher. Yoga is not about negation or regimen, but rather about a better alternative: connecting to a higher signal that lives in the heart. So, what’s the link with astrology? Coming back to citta-vritti-nirodha, and the idea of the turnings of the mind: the Sanskrit word vritti is shared in common with the Greek language, and in Greek it refers to the turnings of the planets in the sky. The planets are always moving, the mind is always moving. With Yoga leading to the cessation of the churnings of the mind, it is not meant to be the same as astrology – it is more like astrology helps us to understand our mind better, not to get caught up in the dramas of our lives.
Astrology gives us like a map of the psyche and the soul, showing what we are experiencing in this particular body, it can go as far as depicting your dharma, your gifts, your challenges.
The planets follow predictable cycles, just as all of the ecology on this planet does, following the principle of the resonance between the microcosm and the macrocosm: as above, so below. When we look at how the planets are positioned and moving through the sky, we are seeing something a mirroring of where we are at. An astrological chart is basically an artificial photo of the sky, as if frozen in time, showing where all the planets are at a given moment (e.g. your birth date), showing us a unique point in time and space in which we find ourselves in, and a sense of where our lives are heading.
As astrological charts present us with a symbolic mirroring of where we are at, it is important to also have a symbolic attitude towards astrology rather than a deterministic one. Astrology helps us to see and understand our karmic tendencies so that we can live our lives with a little bit more wisdom. All too often, people identify themselves with what they look like and other material matters pertaining to maya (the illusion). This false identification is part of our tendency to, metaphorically speaking, fall asleep, instead of awakening to the true essence of who we are: Spirit. The karmic drama is not who we are, yet we do need to deal with it, and it is easier to move through a terrain if we have a basic understanding of the map. The point is not to get lost in it, but to be able to navigate through it in a way that promotes our spiritual evolution and act in a way that is both meaningful and effective.
It all comes down to attitude and stepping into our power (which we so often underestimate!). Having said this, I would like to conclude with a quote by Dane Rudhyar:
“The Essential Purpose of Astrology is not so much to tell us what we will meet on the road, as it is to suggest how we meet it.”
Thanks for tuning in, and until we meet next time in yet another version of the now,
SEE YOURSELF WITH RENEWED UNDERSTANDING 7 Days Retreat and Yoga Foundation Training
Sat 22 Feb – Sun 1 March
Seeing yourself with renewed understanding
EXPLORING YOURSELF IN PRESENT… AND CREATE A NEW UNDERSTANDING OF YOURSELF!
Join this 7-day retreat with Savitri Sattoe in the beautiful Bali at Samyama Mindfulness Retreat Centre
This retreat includes a 6 days Yoga Foundation training and is also a profound way to rest from the busyness of modern living, to slow down, relax and experience what is truly within.
It’s an invitation to stop running away from yourself and life, to turn inward and see yourself with new understanding of the inner programming. Finding a new sense of joy and bliss. Seeing your pain and your sorrow in new perspective. It’s a chance to dive deeply into the teachings of yoga, starting with the Yoga Sutra’s of Patanjali, mainly the Yamas and Niyamas. You’ll be supported by peaceful surroundings and a safe and nurturing environment with like-minded friends.
Through lectures, yoga practice, talks, guided yoga nidra, Savitri will help you stay present and connected with yourself no matter what life throws at you.
Come join us and discover yourself behind the addictions of a lifetime, finding the real you.
For more details, please download the information document.
We look forward to seeing you at this Yoga Foundation retreat in BALI!
Behind our self-image created by our upbringing and society lies the true source, the foundation of yourself. Let’s explore through the teachings of yoga, look deep within ourselves and unravel all the layers covering you.
“Thanks to the training I feel much better equipped to enjoy and deal with what life has in store for me. ~ L. Huijsman
“ A big difference now is that I feel a lot lighter, happier, grounded, more energetic, more grateful for everything than before I started this training. It really feels like a transformation” – S. Mehagnoul.
“I have never seen a psychologist and this course became my therapy which proves once again the power of Yoga to improve emotional health. It was a journey of uncovering personal traumas and learning to let go, finding strength to move forward with my personal goals, learning how to include necessary steps of progress into busy daily routine. It was my stepping stone to a more conscious way of living, another step of evolution in my personal growth. In fact, I see it as only the beginning of my journey, the path that is supported by the beautiful practice called yoga. ~ J. Keslere
“I am so happy that I gave myself this trip as a gift. I have benefited from this all my life. Glad I started transforming instead of choosing the easy way. It has opened my heart to myself.” R. Geelhoed
Yoga Foundation 50-hour training (SYT-50)
23 Feb-1 Mar 2020 | Samyama Meditation Centre | Ubud, Bali
Get to know yourself better and become the playwriter of your own life.
Lay a solid foundation for your practice and deepen your understanding of yoga.
Set yourself up for success: create the conditions in your life to be healthy and happy by learning how to live a yogic life
Being brought to you in Ubud, Bali for the first time, this 6-day yoga foundation training has been successfully taught in The Netherlands for years. In this training, you will:
Become familiar with the sun salutations and its benefits
Dive into yoga philosophy, focus on the first two limbs (yamas & niyamas) of the 8-fold path of yoga
Practice and root in the three pointers of yoga; prana, bandha, drishti
Build your own steady self-practice
Deepen your understanding of yoga and its working in daily life
About the teacher Savitri Sattoe: Savitri is founder, director and yoga teacher at saktiisha academy. Practising yoga and meditation for many years with a lot of love and joy, she is grateful to be able to channel the wisdom, value and beauty of yoga to you and all those willing to receive it through her teachings.
saktiisha academy provides a safe environment to explore deeper layers of yourself and a solid base to continue the self-practice in daily life.
Prices (packages available)
For accomodation >> more info will follow ASAP
Yoga Foundation € 600
>> Prices are excluding travel expenses and stay before 22nd Feb and after 1st March <<
Today we return to the theme topic of the niyamas of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, specifically addressing the fourth: svadhyaya. As a context reminder, the yamas in Yoga are the “do nots” -things we are advised to constrain from doing; while the niyamas are like the “”do’s”- the “do-not constraints,” things we are encouraged to do. The niyamas are essentially comprised of actions of self-love that support a happy, harmonious and spiritual life.
The breakdown of the Sanskrit word svadhyaya goes as follows: sva, means “self,” and adhyaya, means “lesson/lecture/reading.” Another interpretation could be derived from dyhai, which means “meditate/contemplate.” So svadhyaya basically means the study of the self.
The study of the self in the yogic sense of the word goes beyond the Western approach of psychoanalysis. It is more about the study of our Higher Self, our eternal self. It is about realizing the true nature of our being – who we really are. Creating space for introspection definitely supports this process!
YOUR ESSENCE IS DIVINE
To quote Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra: “Study thy self, discover the divine”II.44
Self-realization is the aim of most spiritual practice. And our Self is divine. I personally love svadhyaya because it helps me to be in a constant state of mindful awareness and self-inquiry. Asking myself where my actions are coming from has opened up my eyes about many layers of my being – shedding light on many aspects to be worked on. Seeing how I can recognize the essential divinity in myself and everything around me has added such profound spiritual value to my life, as has recognizing this essence in others too.
Studying and reading anything about the Self, or anything that will help you to connect with and understand your (Highest) self will present you with a great opportunity to observe svadhyaya. Find any books which support you in deepening your practice. While this blog is not meant to market literature, there are a few recommendations we can refer you to. Books I have been studying recently and would definitely recommend are: Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda (1946), The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer (2007), The Undivided Self by The Swami Venkatesananda (1977), and Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith (1996). Swami Satchidananda, an Indian spiritual teacher and yoga adept, who became famous in the West and wrote several philosophical and spiritual books, speaks of svadhyaya as the “study that concerns the true Self, not merely analyzing the emotions and mind as the psychologists and psychiatrists do. Anything that will elevate your mind and remind you of your true Self should be studied: the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible, the Koran, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, or any uplifting scripture. Study.”
Remember that it is not only about reading, but also about understanding what you have learnt – integrating and living it.
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO?
There are many other activities you can take upon yourself to deepen your observance of svadhyaya. You can practice svadhyaya in more ways than might initially meet the eye by embracing it as a yogic attitude, a modality of being so to say.
1. Examine yourself. Question your actions. Question your beliefs. Practice self-inquiry in general (The Work of Byron Katie is a great tool to support you in this).
2. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness does not require any action from you in particular, it is all about simply paying attention. For example, observe yourself on your mat – what kind of thoughts and emotions bubble up? what is your breath like? where are you tense, and possibly challenged? what do you enjoy? Take nothing for granted, see it all as a lesson to take you further…deeper…closer to yourself.
Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the Self” – The Bhagavad Gita
3. By becoming conscious of all that which you are not, you can come closer to yourself. Some of the things which you are not are for example your ego, your emotions, and your thoughts. Discern that which is not you in essence, but rather a part, or layer of your being by asking yourself questions such as: who is the voice in your head that limits you from living out your best potential? Then zoom out, and try to get to the real core of your true and essential Self by witnessing the witness: who is the one experiencing your life? Who is feeling saddened by a wave of a painful emotion? Who is enjoying the cup of tea? Who is the one reading all of this? Do not judge. Just observe.
4. Explore both inner worlds and outer worlds. As much as we can learn about ourselves by studying ourselves, we can also come to know ourselves better by seeking to understand others (rather than judging). Others function as mirrors in our lives. And in our process of getting to know them (and the world around us) better, we end up getting to know ourselves better too. Like a loop. This is because everything is connected. That universal connection is the reason Yoga means union.
5. Still your mind, so that your Self can be revealed. See the divine in yourself. As Swami Vivekananda said: “Where can we go to find God if we cannot see Him in our own hearts and in every living being?”
A note I would like to add on the topic of Self-Realization is that the Self is ultimately whole. So, seek for wholeness by seeing the big picture of it all, and living a holistic life.The more you practice yoga, the more you will see the unfolding of your daily life merging with yoga philosophy. Your individual consciousness is deeply connected to universal consciousness. It is a part of it, never separate. To realize this, is the goal of svadhyaya. As we come to know ourselves better, we begin to understand that we are like drops of the ocean, and, as the buddhist song goes, the only way from stopping a drop of water from ever drying up, is by throwing it back into the ocean.
Sat Chit Ananda (Truth-Consciousness-Bliss). Aldona from saktiisha yoga centre
If you think of people in your life who you perceive as pure, what qualities do they have that make you see them in this way? Isn’t it usually the case that you consider someone pure when you feel they are transparent, having no hidden agenda, healthy, and genuinely well-intentioned? Perhaps you came up with some different things. Like being clean, for instance. Sauca, which means purity in Sanskrit, is an essential part of Yoga practice, and ultimately of life.
Currently finding myself immersed in the wondrous pages of Paramahansa Yoganada’s Autobiography of a Yogi, the topic lies relevantly close to my heart these days. In this post, I would like to share some insights about why that is, and the ways in which we can speak about purity in relation to many aspects of life from a yogic perspective.
If you’re sincere about being a yogi, you know of the yamas and niyamas in Yoga, and you do your best effort to live by them. In case you are new to Yoga, the yamas refer to “restraints,” or rules for harmonizing the relationship between yourself and others; and the niyamas refer to “non-restraints,” or ways to cultivate inner discipline and organize your inner life. Sauca, or purity/cleanliness in Sanskrit, is the first of five niyamas according to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The other four are: santosa (contentment), tapas (austerity), svadhyaya (spiritual study), and isvarapranidhana (surrender to the Divine).
Living a pure lifestyle creates the ideal conditions within our being to come into resonance with the beneficial energies of the universe, and more importantly, to truly come to see the reflection of the divine nature of our own being. This may sound like a mouthful, but it’s true!
There are different types and processes of purification that can occur at various levels. Purification can be physical, mental, or emotional, and even causal in terms of burning karma. Although outer cleanliness is considered important, it is nowhere near as important for spiritual evolution as our emotional and mental purity. The idea is to be pure inside out. Why? It all comes down to resonance. Remember- ‘As above, so below.’ Every single energy in the universe at a microcosmic level corresponds to an energy at the macrocosmic level. In Yoga, we are trying to attune our microcosm with the macrocosm. In order for us to be able to attune to the energies which are beneficial, our own energy needs to resonate with them! By purifying, we can take more responsibility in our lives and empower ourselves. When we attract negative energy into our life, it is mostly a result of our own impure structure at a given time.
Look at it this way. The more impurities you have, the harder you will have to fight in life. As you eliminate impurities, you will see obstacles disappear. The less impurities, the less obstacles. Hatha Yoga is very purifying. When you are in an asana, you are flushing energy through your being. This purifies. It clears the path.
There is a type of Yoga that particularly aims to purify all the levels of your being. Paramahansa Yogananda brought Kriya Yoga to the West in the 1920s after it had been refound by some yogis of the nineteenth century. The sat karma kriya (six actions of purification) make up a complex system of internal and external cleansing methods. These are: neti, dhauti, nauli, basti, kapalbhati, and trataka. The Kriya Yoga methods as presented by Paramahansa Yogananda carve a path to meditation. The practice of Kriya Yoga smooths the path for evolution. It can be a path to liberation! You can also add some of the techniques to your practice and daily life. Kriya Yoga improves your health, clears your mind, and makes your body youthful.
I’d like to make a small parenthesis about the terms karma and kriya. Both of these words mean “action” in Sanskrit. Kriya refers more to actions that purify (Kriya Yoga as a path of purification), and karma refers to the notion of all actions having a cause and effect (Karma Yoga as a path of selfless service). Ultimately, all types of Yoga are meant to lead to samadhi (oneness).
In essence, we are already pure. The very essence of our being is pure. And that is the Beauty of Purity. Our sight is merely clouded by filters. By getting rid of any layers and obstacles
blocking our experience of the true nature of reality we come in touch with the true nature of our being. Just as we can only see our reflection in the water if the water is still and not murky, in the same way, we can only come to see the reflection of who we truly are within ourselves (the Atman) if we are pure. Essentially, we are reflections of something greater, and the idea of individuality is but an illusion limited by the confinements of our egoes.
With all this being said, I hope to have inspired you to have a look at your life, and address those aspects which are standing in the way of you getting in touch with your pure and beautiful Self.
Veel dingen weten we al, het is niet dat je het voor het eerst hoort, leest, ziet. Maar de kracht zit in horen, lezen, het steeds weer zien!
Felicia (van BeingFelicia) deelde een recept voor een veganistische kom. Ik ga dit recept vandaag uitproberen 🙂
Dit deed me denken aan iets dat ik voor en onderweg beoefende, geabsorbeerd worden door de drukte van het leven en alle geweldige activiteiten die ik graag doe (ja zelfs de yogadocenten behandelen dit), de aandacht en intentie verslapt.
De praktijk om bewust je eten te kiezen en bewust te eten. Voedsel is iets dat we kunnen gebruiken als dagelijkse praktijk om bewust te leven en bij te dragen aan een verbonden en harmonieuze gemeenschap. Enkele jaren geleden las ik het boek ‘Waar heb je honger naar’ geschreven door Deepak Chopra. Het heeft absoluut mijn kijk op mijn eetgewoonten veranderd. Ik at vroeger bewust, maar stelde nooit de vraag: vul ik mijn maag of voed en voed ik mijn lichaam en geest?
Hier is nog een Sankalpa (intentie) voor deze 40 dagen: – Ik koos en bereidde mijn eten bewust en vroeg mezelf af: “Ben ik aan het eten of aan het eten?” “Draag ik bij aan een gezonde samenleving?”
Ik vond de tips van Mireille van Hilten van JadOrLife ook leuk. Ik zou haar ‘de gelukscoach’ willen noemen. Ze heeft zulke praktische manieren om te gaan met de zo krachtige geest die neigt naar negatief denken. Je kunt hier meer lezen over haar tips. Tip nummer 3 resoneert nu het meest bij mij “wanneer een negatieve gedachte opkomt Doe eerst niets! Het is ok om ze te denken! Gedachten die misschien negatief lijken, kunnen ons waarschuwen of ze kunnen ons gewoon tegenhouden omdat ze alleen op angst zijn gebaseerd. ”Lees meer Vaak wanneer we emoties hebben zoals droefheid, ons afgewezen voelen, angstig enz., Hebben we de neiging deze te projecteren op een externe bron. Als we de aandacht op de externe bron houden, zullen we niet leren hoe deze energieën op te lossen en te transformeren en blijven we ons niet bewust van de wortels van deze emoties en gedachten. bijv. wanneer iemand je gevoelens niet ‘begrijpt’, zou je in eerste instantie kunnen denken dat de andere persoon ‘niet bereid’ is om het te begrijpen of dat er iets ‘mis’ is met de andere persoon. Dit is natuurlijk meestal niet gebaseerd op de realiteit. Deze eerste gedachte en dit gevoel vertelt me iets over mij. Onze gevoelens gaan niet over de mogelijkheden van anderen, het gaat over onze mogelijkheden. Hoe we omgaan met onze emoties en gevoelens is een individuele verantwoordelijkheid (reactievermogen)
Dit brengt me bij een andere Sankalpa (intentie) die ik neem: – wanneer een gevoel van ongemak zich voordoet, stop, blijf bij het gevoel, vind de gedachte (s) achter dit gevoel, blijf bij de gedachten, wat zijn deze gedachten en gevoelens die vertellen jij over JOU?
Vanaf dit jaar heb ik mezelf een brief geschreven. Een brief met het verhaal dat ik graag over mij zou willen horen. Ik weet zelfs niet meer wat ik heb geschreven 🙂 Ik word verondersteld de brief voor mij te openen op 31 december 2016 … Je kunt je soms mijn ongeduld voorstellen, omdat ik me niet herinner wat ik heb geschreven. Hier zijn enkele regels voor het schrijven van de brief aan jezelf en laat Sankalpa’s hun magie doen: de brief is in het huidige eenvoudig geschreven. bijvoorbeeld:
“Ik ben … / Ik doe … / Ik heb”
in plaats van
“Ik zal … / Ik ben van plan …”
Laten we een brief schrijven over het 40-daagse Spring Yoga-evenement! We hebben nog 34 dagen te gaan tot 10 mei. Schrijf op over jou en je prestaties van deze 40 dagen in het huidige eenvoudig. Verzegel de brief en berg hem op.
Open de brief op 10 mei voor jezelf. Ontdek hoe intenties (Sankalpa’s) werken en waar je bent aangekomen. Uit eigen ervaring kan ik zien dat het verbazingwekkend is hoe krachtig onze geest en geest is als we ons concentreren.
Hier is mijn volgende Sankalpa: een brief aan mezelf schrijven over mijn reis en prestaties tijdens het 40 Days Spring Yoga Event
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Fijne docente, ik ben alleen haar naam vergeten. Heel fijn om de dag te beginnen met ademen, fire breath! Ik ben de hele dag energiek geweest.
Saktiisha is an incredible yoga studio with an abundance of positive energy flowing through every room. I have found that the staff are very friendly and provide great
guidance through physical, emotional and spiritual meditation. Classes are taught in both English and Dutch which allows for a very inclusive atmosphere.
I had a great experience during this yoga class. Very nice relaxation after hard day at work. I would recommend to people that want to take off stress and remove tension from their muscles.
Hele fijne les, goede balans tussen ontspanning en inspanning en zeer fijne teachers
Wat is het heerlijk om iedere week het drukke leven van alledag achter mij te laten, op het moment dat ik bij saktiisha naar binnen stap. In een oase van rust kom ik tijdens de lessen, onder begeleiding van zeer professionele docenten die toegewijd en ieder op hun persoonlijke wijze de les verzorgen, altijd weer helemaal tot mijzelf. Opgeladen, vol kracht en positieve energie kan ik na anderhalf uur weer de hele wereld aan!
Pauline Tiedema – Oase van rust
Great teacher and the center is beautiful! ❤️
Great yoga studio :)
The location is beautiful and the people simply wonderful. The classes are always extremely relaxing and vitalising, end in English if needed. Always a pleasure to come here ❤️
Mooie locatie, heerlijke meditatieles gehad. Ik kom hier graag vaker!
Bijzondere les. Mooie locatie!
Een aantal maanden terug zat ik in een behoorlijke dip en kreeg ik de tip om me eens te verdiepen in mindfulness. Ik ben namelijk een enorme perfectionist die graag de touwtjes strak in handen heeft en ben daardoor vaak erg streng voor mezelf. Met deze houding heb ik mezelf behoorlijk vast weten te draaien. Mindfulness leert je onder andere mild te zijn voor jezelf en dat leek me in mijn geval wel gunstig. Via via kwam ik terecht bij saktiisha waar onder andere mindfulness yoga aangeboden wordt. De nuchtere Drent in mij stond er eerst wat sceptisch tegenover (“als het maar niet te zweverig is”), maar al in de eerste les merkte ik dat er ‘iets’ gebeurde. Ik slingerde van de ene emotie naar de andere. Best spannend en vermoeiend, maar ook reden genoeg om door te zetten. Bij mindfulness yoga is de combinatie lichaam en geest belangrijk: de yoga-oefeningen maken niet alleen je lijf soepeler, ze helpen ook om je energie (weer) te laten stromen. Daarnaast is er veel aandacht voor meditatie- en ontspanningstechnieken. Ik heb nu zo’n 15 lessen gevolgd en merk al een behoorlijk verschil. Ik heb meer rust in mijn hoofd en ben me veel bewuster van mijn lijf. Ik heb zelfs zo de yogasmaak te pakken dat ik naast de relatief rustige mindfulness yoga-lessen nu ook intensievere yogalessen volg. Yoga zorgt ervoor dat ik beter in balans ben en beter om kan gaan met pieken én dalen. En dat je er een stuk soepeler van wordt is helemaal mooi meegenomen!
Natasja Oosterloo – Ik heb meer rust in mijn hoofd