living tantra

I discovered a nice site called Living Tantra and I’ve linked it in the Cyberpals and Whatnot sidebar.

Some Western yogis mistakenly believe that tantra yoga only has to do with tantric sex. A long time ago I saw Sting and his wife talking about their relationship on Oprah (probably around the same time that she gave yoga its requisite 15 minutes of attention), so if it’s on Oprah you KNOW that tantra just HAS to be something we all MUST incorporate into our lives (insert rolling eyes and sarcastic smirk smiley here)…along with finding the right bra and those jeans that fit PERFECTLY! Anyway….

In his book Living Yoga: A Comprehensive Guide for Daily Life, Georg Feuerstein writes that “tantra yoga is the path of ritual…and sexual rituals form only a small part of this yogic orientation. Tantra yoga is about realizing that our personal creativity is rooted in, or derives from, cosmic creative potential itself. From the tantric perspective, creativity is a manifestation of the feminine principle of the universe, the Goddess, called shakti

Feuerstein also writes in his book Tantra: The Path of Ectasy that tantra emphasizes the cultivation of shakti as a path to infinite bliss. His says that tantric teachings are geared toward the attainment of enlightenment as well as spiritual power and are present not only in Hinduism but also in Vajrayana Buddhism.

In my my yoga training I learned that the word tantra in Sanskrit literally means “weave” thereby denoting that our yoga practices — and not just the physical aspect of yoga — are woven (or should be woven) into our daily lives as a beautiful mandala. Therefore, if we are living in a truly tantric manner, we are fully incorporating our yoga into our lives as a daily ritual, consciously taking it off the mat and into our lives.

The following ayurvedic practice/ritual is an excerpt from the Living Tantra website:

DINACHARYA: Daily Conduct

This is a short version of the practice of dinacharya. If you wish to fine tune this for your constitution (vatta, pitta, kapha), read more about the practice in one of the resources listed in the “Ayurveda” sidebar of Living Tantra.


Dinacharya” means daily conduct. Appropriate patterning or ritual conduct is the foundation of a healthy life. Dinacharya is balancing for all of the doshas: vatta, pitta, and kapha. It promotes healthy organization of the energy channels and the seating of the pranas, or internal winds.


Wake up by 6 a.m. Pitta and kapha types can wake up earlier. If you can’t manage this at first, work your way into it. You can train yourself to wake up at this time naturally. It helps to sleep in a room that is not totally dark—one that allows some natural light to enter.

1. Before opening your eyes or getting out of bed, sense the energy of the day. Spend a few moments connecting with the larger cosmos. Breath through the top of your head directly into your heart space (the center of your chest, not the physical heart). You can visualize a golden, luminous stream of compassion and love coming to you from all of your spiritual teachers, past, present, and future, and from all realized beings. Feel a sense of grace expanding throughout the body, and radiate this stream of light from the heart space back to your teachers and all beings….

Also courtesy of the Living Tantra website is Indian Music for Global Yogis. You will see a widget in the sidebar where you can search and download everything from South Indian carnatic music to Krishna Das to vedic chants.

om namah shivaya!


ayurveda and me

The Eco Cafe, my sanctuary from the dust and grime of the Chennai streets….


yoga school is over and now my India adventure really begins…I will travel, solo, for two weeks, taking trains and buses, going to Madurai, Kodaikanal, Rameswaram, and Tiruvannamallai — all temple cities, except for Kodai….

I am back at the hotel where I stayed last year and I leave Monday night for my first stop, Madurai, the town with the famous temple to Meenakshi (Meenakski means “Fish-Eyed”), Shiva’s consort, otherwise known as Parvati or Uma — Shakti power, without whom Shiva would be half a man….

today I had an authentic ayurvedic oil massage with shiro dhara. shiro dhara is where sesame oil is dripped onto your forehead — it was heaven! In fact, the whole experience was heaven.

I did not go to a spa or a fancy retreat — it was an authentic Indian ayurvedic place (but the owner lives in New Jersey, figure that one out!). Definitely nothing fancy, the real deal. Massage done by a little Indian woman. I won’t go into the details, but imagine being on a table that looked like a doctor’s exam table from the 1950s with a thick plastic “sheet” on top and me n#ked as the day I was born, all greased up with sesame oil like a Thanksgiving turkey. Instead of a fancy brass funnel for shiro dhara like they have in spas, she dripped the oil from a clay pot held up by a rope attached to the ceiling. Might not be a pretty picture but I assure you it was authentic and more than wonderful. forget the fancy Shiva Rea yoga retreats at an ayurvedic spa, I’ll take this anytime!

After the 90 minute oil massage, with acupressure, she did the shiro dhara, then I had a 10 minute steam, then a shower — actually an “Indian shower” which is out of a bucket. I sat on a stool as Vesanthi washed off all the oil and shampooed my hair. I was incredibly nurtured by this little Indian woman who barely spoke English, and I felt like a rubber chicken when I left. A two hour ayurvedic massage for 1000Rs, about $23.00. I gave her 200Rs for a tip, almost $5– nothing to an American, to Vesanthi, it means a lot. She had told me that she works because her husband drinks, he’s not a reliable wage-earner. When I gave her the tip, she kissed her fingers and touched her forehead…then we hugged each other….

I scheduled another massage for the day I leave. She said I had hair “like an Indian”, which I took as a compliment because Indian women have beautiful hair…

I spent the weekend after yoga school in Chennai, just hanging out, shopping, and one of my favorite places to chill is the Eco Cafe, located on an “upscale” street. It’s a place for Westerners and Indian yuppies to hang out. I love the “Indian” places, but I can relax here with my tea and read the international version of the New York Times, away from the cacaphony of the Chennai traffic. It’s green and peaceful, and I can spend hours there. They even have a mean basil pesto that’s not bad…

on to Madurai soon…nine hours on the overnight train…