If you have been to any of my classes, you know my passion for natural healing and for the natural world. I've found that many of our community members share this passion. I’m not a medical professional but have learned a lot from my herbalist friends and love to share. Please read up before using wild or cultivated herbs and mind the cautions. These pictures are from my midsummer garden and the healthy benefits described below are just a few of their wonderful qualities. I encourage the whole community to share about their gardens and add pictures and talk about how you use your plants for healing, beauty and for food.
Mint and Lemon Balm
Mint is a miracle herb for digestive discomfort. Whenever I have a stomachache, I drink mint tea or just chew some mint and it almost immediately relieves it. Even a peppermint lozenge works wonders for this. Mint is also used to treat IBS, to improve cold symptoms, to reduce pain and to freshen the breath. Lemon balm, which is in the mint family, has many of these same qualities and is a miracle herb for the nervous system, it calms and soothes and helps with sleep. Peppermint and spearmint are among the other variations in the mint family and all can be dried and used in teas and smoothies or just chewed. Invigorating peppermint oil is wonderful in soaps and lotions and a few drops can even be added to a glass drinking water.
I cook almost every day with this herb, blanched almonds soaked in coconut amino acids and rosemary, then dried are so delicious (they sell them at Trader joe’s too, that’s where I got the idea). Rosemary helps with digestion, heartburn, gas and loss of appetite. It also can treat gout, coughs, headaches, blood pressure issues, stress and depression. Rosemary oil increases circulation which helps relieve muscle aches and arthritis - it is also famous for hair, it is added to shampoos and rinses and is a remedy for hair loss as it stimulates circulation when rubbed into the scalp, which also can help with head pain as well as concentration and memory retention.
I like to crush lavender leaves up and just inhale their scent, it instantly cheers me up. At our MKY yoga teacher Jennifer's behest, I recently used lavender oil on a real bad burn and was astounded at how fast it began to heal! So grateful! It is good for all kinds of wound healing, fungal infections and muscle pain. It is also good to rub on the scalp to prevent hair loss and when rubbed on the skin and inhaled is good for emotional symptoms, including premenstrual angst and moodiness.
Queen of all Chinese herbs, the berries have been famous for centuries for women’s beauty. It lowers inflammation, supports adrenal function, improves liver function, protects and beautifies the skin, improves mental functions and helps with healthy sexuality. I’m still waiting for my four thriving plants (planted in the shade) to bear berries. Probably will have to consult my local gardening club about this soon. Schizandra cleans both the liver and the blood at the same time. Just a wonderful five flavor herb that improves all-around health, perhaps more than any other herb.
I first became interested in this plant when I got bit by a tick as it contains resveratrol, the number one herb for Lyme disease and it grows in abundance in all the places where lyme it prevalent. It is also high in vitamin A and C and antioxidants that support vision. It reduces inflammation, boosts immunity and promotes brain health. It is also known to detox the liver and prevent heart disease, reduce cholesterol, maintain healthy blood sugar and beautify the skin. It can reduce inflammation in the GI tract and treat gout as well. Resveratrol also induces autophagy, which cleans up the whole body, repairing every cell. Quite a powerhouse, anti-aging herb!. I gather this herb wherever I can find it, which is almost anywhere, because my plants are still so young. I make tea from the stems and leaves and also add the stems to my smoothies.
Rosehips are the big round bulbs that remain after a rose dies. I have a virtual rose garden in my yard and dry all my rosehips and grind them up in the coffee grinder and steep them in tea. Rosehips are a potent form of vitamin C and have been used to treat diabetes, diarrhea, digestive disorders, urinary tract infections and the flu.Read up on rosehips before using them as there are some cautions. Rose hip oil is one of the most famous beauty oils around. The biggest rose hips I’ve ever seen are by the beach.
Please tell us about your garden, even if it’s a windowsill garden, in the comments below. We love our plants and benefit from them so much, so let’s share the love.
Next month, in this botanical vein, we are going to explore yoni herbs, yoni steaming and flower essences that assist that part of the body, including the perineum point which often deserves healing in females. Marla, one of our cherished members, along with myself, will share expertise and resources. If you have any knowledge in this area, please get ready to share on our August blog. Sat Nam and Wahe Guru!!!
Dear Beloved MKY Community,
The month of June is widely recognized as Pride Month by the members of the LGBTQ+ community and the allies who support them. As one of MKY’s openly-gay teaching staff, I’m grateful to share with you all what this month means to me, especially so as a yogi.
Recognize that the other person is you.
I came out in January, 2013 at the age of 18 in what I’ve ultimately recognized to be the most decisive, fear-filled, and liberating moment of my life. For all my adolescent years, I firmly believed that if I could not conceal the fact that I was gay, I would be bullied, ridiculed, and––most terrifyingly of all–– friendless. The fear gripped me tightly. I learned to suppress and distort my sexuality by pretending to be straight at a time when my coming-of-age energies were most fragile and in need of awareness.
There is a way through every block.
After years of lying both to myself and to others, I had not only developed a chronic pain condition, my mental health had truly collapsed and I’d fallen into a dark sense of despair. Daily life was a prison, of which I felt the victim with no identifiable way out. Until one day, when I saw that the way out was through.
When the time is on you, start, and the pressure will be off.
As I stepped on stage in front of my entire high school to receive an acting award and deliver a short speech–– for my performances in drama and musical theatre–– I became faced with a completely new destiny. My heart rate exploded and my vision went tunnel… and yet, somehow, the words left my lips and into the microphone and told the whole world that I was gay. The moment I finished speaking, something within me bloomed that has never left me since. A commitment to the integrity of a much deeper truth.
Vibrate the cosmos and the cosmos will clear a path.
After years of advocacy and dedication to social reform, I experienced a spontaneous & life-changing spiritual awakening (satori) that led me, in part, to the teachings of Kundalini Yoga.
As a yogi, I’ve learned so much about how to relate not only to myself as a gay person, but as a man and a spiritual being a part of something larger than myself–– my beloved community, my sadh sangat. By Grace, devotion, discipline, and meditation has slowly begun to bloom in me. My dedication to the practices of Kundalini Yoga is renewed with every moment of beauty and experience that flows through me when I teach and take class. Praying and chanting has brought my gay identity into a space where it doesn’t become a center, but just another piece of the foundation of my inner self-esteem.
After coming out, I relied too heavily on “being gay” as a source of “pride”. Quite frankly, that identity became a crutch for a deeper sense of insecurity, which has taken many years to accept and transcend. I don’t mean to imply that this is the case for others who strongly identify with their sexual (or other) identities, but it certainly was true for me. Kundalini Yoga has inspired me to go deeper and let go of so many aspects of my personality that despite their appearance were really limitations.
And yet, I am grateful that my gay identity has continued to be a foundation of service to others. Today I run an LGBTQ+ nonprofit that helps to foster heart-centered leaders in our community, and––cut short by the pandemic–– fellow MKY teacher KiMani Divine & I offered free kundalini yoga to homeless LGBTQ+ youth in New York.
Spiritual work has enabled me to integrate so many of my identities and lean on trust in God and the deeper wisdoms that pulse in unknown spaces of my heart. For me, Pride Month is a reminder of how far I’ve come, how supported I’ve been by so many people over the years, and where my work lies ahead: Choosing to love others and myself at all times, in all places, no matter what.
The Aquarian Age is full to the brim with collective challenges of body, mind, and spirit, but the most beautiful part is we are not alone. Everyone needs mirrors at times to remind them of the beauty inside. For some that may be a Pride celebration, and for others it may be a class with spiritual family at Montclair Kundalini Yoga. Or, for someone like me, it might be both.
Understand through compassion or you will misunderstand
Sat Nam!!! Wahe Guru!!
Manush teaches a weekly online Kundalini Yoga class & co-leads monthly Online New Moon Healing Ceremonies with Kimani Divine.
MKY's beloved teacher, Kathy Livingston, first came to yoga in a moment of need. In her memoir Yin, Yang, Yogini: A Woman's Quest for Balance, Strength and Inner Peace, she recounts how yoga informed and helped her on her journey through fear. Having been raised on a steady diet of worst case scenarios, Kathy finds she has to reinvent herself in middle age in order to face and move through her reality. Below are excerpts from her relatable, humorous, and poignantly-told story.
I've come to yoga... because I'm falling apart. My therapist (a soft-spoken, slender lady whom I've recently begun seeing) believes it might pull me together. I'm doubtful, but what's to lose? I have a wonderful husband, three perfect boys and a charming little home in a New Jersey suburb. On the outside I appear content and in control, but something tugs violently at my heart each morning: the mistakes I've made, the wrong turns I've taken, the losses that come with middle age, including the deaths of both of my parents. I have yet to find the gains of aging (except at my waist). Might yoga be a path?
I need a path because life has come to a sudden halt, as if I've stubbed my toe at the gate to year fifty, and sit bleeding. I'm afraid to pick myself up and carry on. I'm afraid to move forward, and I can't go back, and in my paralyzed state, I wonder if I'll even be able to figure this yoga thing out at all. In the past, I would have turned to my mother; though she couldn't calm my fears because she had too many of her own, at least we could commiserate. But now she's gone, and there's no one who seems to understand the agitated state of my mind. When I crawl into bed at night, my thoughts take hours to settle, and even when I'm sleeping my worries seem to hum and vibrate beneath my pillow. I'm literally "driving myself crazy," and without my mom in the passenger seat, I know I can't continue to travel through life in this way.
I'm afraid of little things, like traffic merges and snapping turtles, but I'm also afraid of sending my fifteen-year-old son off to study in England for a month, afraid of flying, of losing my three nearly grown boys to adulthood and independence, frightened at the thought of them going off to college, afraid of illness, terrified of death -- my own and everyone else's -- and even scared of fully enjoying life because it can so easily slip between one's fingers. I hope -- and if I prayed I'd be praying -- that yoga will make a difference. But I'm not a spiritual woman and I'm certainly not an avid exerciser. I haven't been to church in more than twenty years, and the last time I moved fast enough to break a sweat, I was chasing a toddler around a park.
Kathy struggled to get comfortable in yoga classes and in yoga poses and with yoga philosophies, but along the way discovered that they nourished her. She leaned on yoga and her practice developed. Then, after two years of practice, Kathy was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was forced to face perhaps her greatest fear, her own mortality. She brought so much of what she was learning about herself and life in yoga to getting through her surgery, radiation, and nights of worry. Thankfully, she got through and is cancer-free today.
[My yoga teacher] Jeanine says that Mercury is in retrograde, which supposedly causes some kind of confusion in our lives. I guess I do feel a bit confused; getting to know and love this new person I've become is quite a challenge. I'm a person with seven pinpoint blue tattoos on my breast (used to guide the radiation therapists), a two-inch scar, and a calendar filled with doctor and treatment appointments, a person who had cancer, a person who may still have some cancer cells lurking around that need to be zapped for survival. I'm a woman I never imagined being, as if my past and future selves have just been introduced at a dance neither one of us really wants to attend. "Who is that awkward kid in the plaid dress?" my future self asks. Never mind; just dance with her, show her the steps.
But according to my yoga teachers, this is really not who I am anyway: we are not our thoughts, our words, or our worries. My divine and perfect self is and always has been here, like a cookie in a jar, waiting for a little kid to reach her hand in and pluck it out. I can almost see myself standing in front of that cookie jar, gathering my courage. We need so much courage just to love ourselves.
One of the upsides of moving our studio online during the pandemic is daily connection with Lori Gale. A dedicated and thoughtful practitioner, as well as a certified Kundalini Yoga teacher, she shares here part of her journey with MKY. Thank you, Lori, for sharing your heart and your Truth. Thank you for bringing your energy, your devotion, your kindness, your everything to our community day after day. It means the world!
In the before times, I could only make it to MKY one Sunday a month. I was living over 30 miles away, had a demanding job, etc., etc. But what a treat to have Cate as a teacher and to be in community with the other students on those special Sundays. “Let the truth in you guide you” is the heart of why I love Kundalini yoga, and Cate makes this come alive in every class. I signed up right away when I learned that MKY would be offering online classes and moon ceremonies.
My first new moon intention of 2020 was to release pain and stiffness in my neck and shoulders. Daily yoga was helping, but this pain was very stubborn. I have come to understand that pain in this location is often the result of feeling overly responsible, as if one is carrying the weight of the world. This certainly describes me, having been a single parent, taking care of a big house on my own, and being in a profession where mistakes could kill people. But now that I have downsized my home and retired from structural engineering, it was time to lay these burdens down.
With the help of our beautiful yoga practice along with Cate and Savitri’s new moon remote Reiki, the physical pain has completely disappeared. It feels great to be able to move freely again, but I continued to be haunted by memories of a bullying situation in my former workplace. Numerous times each day I would find myself engaged in churning thoughts of passive aggressive revenge. I knew I needed to forgive and move on, but the thoughts would not go away. I asked my intuition for guidance, and finally it came during a recent class with Savitri.
Savitri is an amazing healer with a wonderful way of sharing her deep spiritual knowledge. In each class, she lovingly expands on a spiritual topic while the students are doing the asanas. We learn about different spiritual beings, the various types of chi, practices around the world, water, trees, essential oils, fasting, and even coffee. One day Savitri talked about the importance of respecting and integrating our emotions, and it occurred to me to wonder what my emotions really were concerning my workplace bully. As I pondered, the strongest feelings to emerge were shame and embarrassment for letting myself be treated that way, and suddenly I realized that I had never fully let myself feel the shock and terror of being yelled at by someone at work. Recognizing that these were my true emotions felt like a huge thing that needed to come out, almost like having a baby.
When Savitri invited the class to locate the emotions in the body, I could feel them deep below my navel center and could sense another knot of similar emotions in the same location. These were from being bullied as a kid, which happened often because my family moved a lot. In this case too, shame and embarrassment covered up the real hurt. Amazingly there was now a path for all that pain to release, and I lay in shavasana thinking, “whoa, what just happened?” I know there was a deep shift because now I can see that the negative thoughts are just my monkey mind trying to help. I don’t need to engage with them anymore. What a relief!
I am incredibly grateful to all the MKY teachers and students for creating a welcoming and supportive space where we can give and receive the enormous benefits of Kundalini yoga. It has been so great to practice with everyone. Thank you very much! Wahe guru!
Below is a beautiful message from our dear, dear Nicky. She is an MKY Community member, deep thinker, Truth-teller and so much more. She shares here about a profound experience in our recent New Moon Healing Ceremony.
Sat Nam MKY Community,
Wherever you are in the world (inner or outer), I know this message will find you at the perfect moment, in the perfect space and in the most perfect way possible for you at this time.
Synchro-Divinity is when unforeseen circumstances line up perfectly and "coincidentally." They are so perfectly and eerily timed that they just have to be guided by an energetic force bigger than our human self. This is what I have been experiencing with MKY and my own healing practice lately.
Recently, I have been digging deeply into my most intimate relationships (with my father, brother, partner and children). I am finally starting to understand that there are indescribable opportunities for healing within these connections. Every time I discover a new opportunity for healing, it is Synchro-Divinely the intention of the next MKY class I attend. This tells me that I am open and now I have a choice: close back up and avoid the pain or remain open, curious and say "yes". This leads me to the New Moon Healing Ceremony I attended the other night, guided by graceful and radiant souls, Padmani and Manush...
Padmani opened our circle with the most beautiful invocation, inviting us to welcome in our inner child. What is so Synchro-Divine about this? Well, I am reading a book titled How to Do the Work by Dr. Nicole LaPera (The Holistic Psychologist). The chapter I've been focusing on is Chapter 7: Meet Your Inner Child. This chapter has been achingly accurate to things I am realizing about myself, like how my family disregarded my big feelings as a young girl because it made them uncomfortable. As a result, I shut down, closed my heart, and armored up using indifference and aloofness to cover up any and every emotion I experienced. (Yes, even joy.)
My heart ached and jumped for joy when my inner-Nicky came out to play. She was scared and excited at the same time. Scared because she wasn't sure if she would be fully accepted if she showed up as her real self, and joyful because she felt like this was one of the only places where she could fully show up. For a little one, this weird contradiction in feelings can be confusing, but she said "yes" because she trusted us, our community.
As excited as she was, she contracted again when Manush excitedly announced we would be doing Sat Kriya for 15 minutes, but she trusted him, too and knew he wouldn't lead her astray. She said "yes" again.
A few minutes into Sat Kriya, when I started to wonder how in all Holy Hell I'd be able to see this through, my (late) mom appeared and started cheering me on from the Ethers. I haven't felt her this strongly in a little while. She was right there with me, unlike growing up, as she worked two jobs and dismissed so many of my emotions and stories because she was just so exhausted. This was her way of showing up for me. This was her atonement. I accepted it, embraced it, and used it to keep me up. It worked.
Deep relaxation was pure bliss. Every cell in my body was ignited. My DNA was restructuring itself. I could feel it. Was it the yoga, or was it forgiveness? Was it simply because I said, yes? Was it just because I actually showed up to class? I will never truly know, and that's more than OK. The "why" is what trips us up more often than not.
The last meditation started off to be so fun. I remembered when my daughter, Devon, let me record her doing it. I could just hear her singing, "I AM happy. I AM good." Then the tears. Tears, tears, tears. My inner, little Nicky realized that she is good and she is happy. She knows her parents did the best they could with what they had available to them at the time. It's all OK.
I then started to see how harsh I can sometimes be with my own kids. I cried for them. I cried for me. I cried for us. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you. I am doing the best I can, and my best changes from day to day, from moment to moment.
SO much went down for me the New Moon Healing. It's not because I'm special. It's not because I've been doing this for a "long time". It's not at all because I am any more "advanced" than anyone else. It's because I said yes. I said yes to allowing a part of me that I thought I lost forever to come out and play in a safe, loving space, even though I knew that this game wouldn't necessarily be the most fun we've ever had.
This is what MKY is for me. My safe place. Yes, I can find that within myself, sure, but to have a community to support your healing in such an authentic and unconditionally loving way, is priceless. If you have yet to attend class or any of our moon ceremonies for whatever reason, one day, I hope you say yes. I hope to see your glowing gorgeous face in all of its grace, glory, suffering, angst, uncertainty, joy and radiance, because whatever way you show up, I love you anyway. Every ounce of you.
May we always remember that there is joy to be found within each and every moment.
May we remember that we always, always have a choice.
May we learn to love every single ounce of ourselves. Only then can we truly love another.
Cynthia Seva is a treasured member of the MKY community. In this blog, she shares her heart's truth about how she found herself at a low point and picked herself up with a daily spiritual practice.
When I started my practice in 2019, my goal was to find peace within and my ultimate goal was to become less reactive. This year I was challenged by emotional distress. My empathetic nature was truly withering my soul. The challenges in our world coupled with my heart mourning loss became unbearable and brought me to my knees on many occasions.
I am strong because I’ve been weak and this year I allowed myself to be vulnerable. But then, I could not find a way out. It’s ok not to be ok, but it’s not ok to stay in that place. This is where depression and mental instability can take over. I found myself there.
So, I reached out to my MKY family for support and decided to embark on a 40 day practice with Cate as my Kundalini Coach. Cate and I co-created a beautiful, nurturing meditative routine for me to do every day for 40 days in a row - every moment, every sound, every breath had a purpose. My 40 day Sadhana....
Day 1 my heart was heavy and my emotions heightened. Day 8 came around and I was able to function past moments of anxiety. Unexpectedly, I realized I no longer depended on coffee (true story). And I had a new love in my life, ME! Now I was open to life and new experiences.
By day 15, I was dancing around palm trees in Puerto Rico where I was vacationing. By day 20, I realized I was opening space for myself to fill and with that came a sense of expansion and growth.
I live by a lake in New Jersey, and I often did my practice outside by the water. On my 40th day of practice, I opened my eyes and there were swans floating by just in front of me. Coincidence? I think not.
The rest is history. Here I am after 40 days, loving myself like I’ve never loved me before. I'd become so accustomed to filling everyone else’s cup first that I'd forgotten to fill my own.
For the first time in my life, I am single for months and loving my own companionship and open to what comes along my path. To know my worth means nobody ever gets to decide it for me. You cannot come to know yourself as grand until you've known yourself as small. Thank you to everyone that has entered and exited. Blessings! Cynthia Seva
This is our dear student and friend, Erik Maietta, a bright light in our MKY community. The other day after class he shared a beautiful example of how Kundalini Yoga impacted his real life in a very real way. We asked if he'd be willing to share on the blog, and he graciously agreed. Here is his story.
A few days before Christmas, I became terribly upset by a friend who gave holiday gifts to everyone in our group… except me! Although there was no intention to hurt me, I took this situation VERY personally and worked myself up into a state of rage and resentment. The next day, I decided my best course of action was to take a MKY class which did help me settle down and recenter for sure. However, that afternoon, I was still struggling with my wounded feelings. I knew that if I could just hold out long enough the feelings would eventually pass like the clouds. However, my ego was firmly in control and finally wore me down and convinced me I had to confront her at work and spit my venom!
Once in my car, I was still wrestling with this urge and if it was really the best thing for me to do (maybe this is a big spiritual test, and I MIGHT be overreacting??). Something urged me to drive through a park on the way, and my feelings softened a little more. As I neared the driveway of my friend’s store, I saw her parked car (along with many other cars of customers). I thought that she must be so busy and overworked right before Christmas. My heart was suddenly flooded with compassion, and I found myself wishing her well! I continued driving right past her store as any remaining feelings of resentment and anger instantly vanished. Then a few seconds later as I pulled up to a red light, my entire body quivered with a MASSIVE tingling sensation exploding all over my crown chakra and heart/chest area. I could feel an energy rise from my bowels and float up above my head, causing me to instantly feel amazing peace and bliss. My body felt soothed and relaxed all over as if I just finished an intense gym workout (thankfully I was stopped at the light when all this happened!!).
As I drove back home, I knew something amazing just happened… a MIRACLE for sure! Something major shifted inside that cannot be undone now. I was happy and filled with love for the rest of the week, and I am still feeling the energetic change in my being. It was no coincidence that I have been attending more MKY sessions recently, and I am so grateful that I attended class that morning (as well as our amazing solstice celebration later that same day!). Each experience brings me more and more inner clarity and a healthy release of stale/old energies. As an empath, I realize how important my spiritual health is, and I cannot thank MKY and the entire staff enough for all the love and support as I continue my journey.
Thank you all so much, and Happy New Age of Aquarius!! Sat nam!
This past week, on Tuesday, we crossed the threshold of the Autumnal Equinox. And with the season of harvest and abundance now upon us, it is with much gratitude that I write to you all now in celebration.
Over the past three-and-a-half years, I have had the pleasure of getting to know so many of you. Being together– in class and at the various gong events I’ve hosted– has allowed us to create in ways that I know have helped meet our deepest needs: To understand with certainty that we are not alone, and to experience a sacred love beyond words.
Going forward, as I officially join the teaching staff at MKY, it is my great honor to offer what I can to guide you even deeper into your being.
I don’t pretend to have special knowledge, or answers to the questions that pulse in your hearts like ancient drums in the distance, but... I do have some things. I have the love of Awareness itself that I will bring to each class I teach. I have deep honor for your souls, whose journeys have, through some miracle, crossed paths with mine. I have unshakable trust in the power of our intentions to heal and guide us through the abyss of the unknown. And I have the joy I’ve discovered in walking a spiritual path and in forging my destiny alongside you all with courage, love, and peace.
Every Tuesday, at 6:30pm, I will offer what I can to help you fulfill your God-given potential and grow in awareness daily.
Please reach out to me with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to our journeys of awareness and discoveries of the truth within.
And I hope to see you in class. Sat Naam.
We are embarking on an experiment, and you are invited to join. Inspired by our dear friend and student Joanne, we are doing a 40 Day practice of the 5 Tibetan Rites.
Also known as the Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation, this practice consists of just 5 exercises, each repeated 21 times (or as many as you can up to 21). It takes mere minutes to do and the benefits are remarkable. They include:
For these reasons, the Tibetan 5 are known as "the Fountain of Youth." The benefits are said to come about by getting the chakras (energy centers or vortexes) spinning. According to Peter Kelder's book on this subject, "In a healthy body, each of these vortexes revolves at a great speed, permitting vital life energy... to flow upward through the endocrine system. But if one or more of these vortexes begins to slow down the vital energy is inhibited or blocked, well, that's just another name for aging and ill health."
Savitri and I have known this practice for awhile and practiced it here and there. During the pandemic, we began offering a FREE online class on the Tibetan 5 twice a week, Mondays and Wednesdays at 10:30am. So lately, we'd been practicing twice a week -- until Joanne spurred us to take it on for 40 days, every single day. (I'm on DAY 5 and already feeling benefits.)
Please read her story below and see if you want to join the experiment. To learn the exercises from us, you can join us for class on a Monday or a Wednesday at 10:30am EST. It's fun to practice together, and it's FREE. Or you can read up on them in Kelder's The Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth.
The Fountain of Youth entices many people, particularly as we start to get “a little” older. Wouldn’t it be great to feel energized? To regain the vitality of youth? After a class practicing the Five Tibetans, and hearing about the purported results (Fountain of Youth!!) of doing it regularly, I decided to go for it. A daily practice for as along as I could, maybe for 40 days.
As with many people in the midst of this upheaval of our lives, my mental state had not been good. To put it bluntly, I had little to no interest in anything, and little to no interest in doing anything about it. Perhaps, I thought, if the Five Tibetans really is magical, I could regain my “normal” self. So I started whirling! After 2 days (no kidding) I felt better, more connected. I realize there are many reasons for change. Making a decision to DO something may have started it. Maybe it was just time. Maybe, maybe. Persisting, I am now on DAY 10 (as of this writing). The exercises have become easier, although my form still lacks precision. My overall mental/emotional state is much improved. Not perfect, but improved. I’m interested and getting involved with new things. I’ll keep going and see what happens. You don’t know until you try! Fountain of Youth, here I come!!
We thank Joanne so much for sharing her story and inspiring us to dive in. Are these 5 exercises that can be done in under 15 minutes really the Fountain of Youth? Let's find out together. If you're joining the experiment, share a comment below and keep us posted about your experience.
The Eight Brocades is a real blessing for millions of people all over the world. The movements are beautifully silken, like intricate brocade. After practicing, it feels as if you are wearing a robe of rich, soft, silk fabric: This is the Qi(Chi) or Prana that flows through the subtle channels in and around the body, brightening and strengthening the radiant body, which in turn strengthens, protects, heals and sustains the physical body.
Eight Brocade Qigong is one of the most common forms of Qigong in the world and is probably the simplest Qigong one can learn. It is focused on opening the muscles and tendons and healing and awakening the internal organ systems of the physical body.
A simple search online describes people with physical problems, especially related to the lower body, who have had amazing benefits within 6-8 months of practicing this form. People who had difficulty with instability, who were prone to falling or unable to climb stairs or even walk a few steps were able to build up their energy body and physical body with the Eight Brocades to the point where they could walk several flights of stairs with relative ease. Even people with Parkinson’s disease have reported increased stability in the body, with pain and rigidity eased up by 50% or more.
The Eight Brocades follow the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine and are one of the most gentle and effective ways of working with the body. They calm the nervous system, improve circulation, build great strength and heal body, mind, and spirit. They correct physical and energetic imbalances of all kinds and optimally direct Qi throughout the body, removing blockages without the use of needles, herbs or massage. In fact, it is one of the best ways to strengthen the body and improve circulation. It also helps in balancing the vital functions and drives stagnant energy and toxins out of the system.
The Eight Brocades also happens to be one of the oldest Qigong systems in Chinese history. It is first mentioned by name in the 12th century Stories Heard by Yijian, a collection of supernatural tales from the Song dynasty. Descriptions of the physical movements of the Eight Brocades, as well as their related medical applications, also show up in the Daoist encyclopedia, Pivot of the Way, also from the 12th century.
But even earlier, these precise movements were described in the sixth century, in Cultivating Spirit and Extending Vitality Record, written by one of the great grandfathers of Daoism, Tao Hongjing, who lived between 456–536 BCE. Going back even further, thanks to recent archeological discoveries in China, we can see that the Eight Brocade exercises, though probably called by a different name, were being practiced as far back as the second century BCE as shown by some of the characters from the Diagram of Leading and Pulling, from 168 BCE.
The Eight Brocades seem to have grown in popularity during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), appearing in a fairly standardized way in numerous books, such as the 14th century Essentials of Attaining Longevity, written by the painter, musician, and Daoist hermit Leng Qian in the 12th century, as well as in the 16th century Eight Treasuries on Nurturing Life, written by the Daoist playwright Gao Lian. In both contexts it is praised as an essential practice for balancing the energies of the body.
The famous, undefeated martial artist and general Yue Fei, who was also a calligrapher and poet, held off China’s enemies single-handedly in the 10th century, for an entire generation. The Eight Brocades was said to be the secret of his incredible strength.
In one of the narratives about the Eight Brocades, Zhong Li Quan, one of the famous Eight Daoist Immortals, formalized the Eight Brocades in the 14th century. Then it further caught on in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).
The French Jesuit missionary Pierre-Martial Cibot came to the court of the Qing Emperor in the 1700s and published an essay in 1779, Instructions on the Kung Fu of Daoist Monks, which includes a number of drawings of Daoist monks performing what are clearly exercises from the Eight Brocades. Cibot’s article included a rundown of Daoist anatomy and the function of these movements, i.e. the restoration of proper circulation of energy. He even mentions that these exercises are performed to prepare the body for the alchemical process. The paper was widely circulated in Europe, and has come to be regarded as a source document on the Eight Brocades in the history of physiotherapy for the West, due to its influence on Pehr Henrik Ling (1766-1839), the father of Swedish Gymnastics.
From there, the Eight Brocades seeped into Modern European physical culture and was practiced by the military of many different countries, including the British army stationed in India, who practiced it alongside yoga.
Today it is practiced as a modern, transnational, therapeutic form of moving meditation for health, healing, strength and well-being. The Chinese Communist Party tried to curb the global explosion of QiGong toward the end of the 1990s, delegitimizing many forms of Qigong, famously imprisoning and even executing practitioners of Falon Gong and other forms QiGong. I have seen many human rights protests in Times Square led by Falon Gong and Falon Dafa practitioners within the last few years while working in New York.
The Eight Brocades, luckily, were approved by the Chinese Communist Party and is often a first resort for healing the body, prescribed before sending a patient to a doctor or hospital in China. It is perhaps the most common form of Qigong practiced all around the world.
The Eight Brocades, when practiced regularly, improve wellness, fitness, vitality, healing, and longevity. It can be practiced by everyone; young and elderly, people who are fit and also those looking to get fit. The standing sets of the Eight Brocades can be learned by anyone who can stand, and can establish health in as little as 15 minutes a day.
I have been practicing the Eight Brocades daily for many years now and can attest to their efficacy. I very much look forward to sharing them with you.
Join Savitri online on Fridays at 1pm for Chi-Gung & the Eight Brocades.