Focus of The month


by Mayela Gonzalez| July, 2024

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sarve bhavantu sukhinaħ     sarve santu nirāmayāh

sarve bhadrāni paśyantu     mā kaścid duhka-bhāg bhavet

– Brhadāranyaka Upanișad

May all beings be happy. May all be free from sickness. May all perceive what is good and beautiful. And may no one experience suffering. 

– Translation by Manorama

Once upon a time, there were two birds perched on the branches of a tree. The bird atop the upper branch remained peaceful and serene. Meanwhile, the bird on the lower branch moved constantly from one perch to another, indulging in the tree’s fruits, experiencing moments of happiness and unhappiness.

Envious of the tranquility displayed by the upper bird, the lower bird attempted to emulate its stillness. However, the temptation to feast on the tree’s fruits quickly shattered any hope of tranquility.

Occasionally, sunlight would dance upon the feathers of the upper bird, casting a radiant glow. One such moment, the light’s reflection embraced the lower bird, inducing a wondrous transformation. The urge to indulge in the fruits, along with the oscillation between joy and sorrow, dissolved like a fleeting dream. In that moment, the lower bird felt akin to its peaceful counterpart perched above, embodying serenity and calmness, being one with the whole.

-Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad

The bird on the lower branch represents the jīva – the individual soul. Initially driven by desires, it moves incessantly, seeking fulfillment in the transient joys of the world. However, through a journey of self-discovery and spiritual awakening, the bird gains complete realization and attains Kaivalya, breaking free from the bondages of earthly attachments. In this liberated state, the bird becomes a jīvanmukta, in direct communion with paramātman, the I-AM, the God within, embodying ultimate peace and transcendence.

Freedom emerges as thoughts fade, allowing the present moment to take precedence in our experience. As desires decrease, we find ourselves increasingly embodying the role of the seer, transitioning into the realm of understanding. Through this evolution, we come to deeply appreciate the profound gift that life bestows upon us.

Vritti activity can obscure our true essence, but by examining moments of peace and joy, we get a glimpse of the real Self, which is Sat-chit-ānanda, truth-knowledge-bliss. This glimpse could come in the form of a furry companion, looking at the stars, listening to the rain, a smile, or feeling the touch of the sun, akin to the bird on the lower branch. Thus, we undergo a wonderful change—the revelation of the ātman.

Through experience, we come to understand the essence of freedom and learn to trust in it. As the absence of thoughts becomes a consistent presence in our lives.

As advised by Sri Patañjali in sutra 1.14: “Abhyāsa, meditative practice, becomes firmly and naturally established over a long period of time when, without interruption and with constant effort, reverent and dedicated energy and great love, one fixes one’s mind on the Self, the I-AM.” (commentary by Sri Brahmananda Sarasvati)

With constant practice over a long period of time, you will notice that the present seems eternal.

Yoga practices were developed to assist us in discovering this freedom, to strike a balance between the life within our minds and the immediacy of our experiences -here and now. Through yoga practices, we connect with the absolute consciousness field.

Like a river, we have the choice to flow towards “our head” reinforcing the illusion of separation –māyā, or to merge into the vast ocean of awareness, experiencing the unity of being and gaining a profound understanding of the interconnectedness of all things.


  1. Recite the śāntiḥ mantra ‘Sarve Bhavantu’ in class. Through the chanting of śāntiḥ mantras, we tap into the collective energies of love and interconnectedness, radiating them out into the world.
  2. Ask students what freedom means to them?
  3. Delve into Maharishi Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 4.34.
  4. Explore texts that show how interconnectedness relates to freedom.
  5. Delve into the concept of gunas in class, exploring their connection to this month’s focus.
  6. Emphasize the cultivation of balance in both your asana practice and teaching.
  7. Teach bird asanas in your classes to evoke the sensation of flight in the body, fostering a sense of freedom and connection.
  8. Incorporate the classical sequence ‘Eagle’s Flight’ from the book ‘Jivamukti Yoga: Practices for Liberating Body and Soul’ (pages 112-113) into your teaching.
  9. Encourage students to engage in morning and evening meditation practice at home, even if it’s just for 5 minutes per session. This practice will help them sustain a sense of connection with the Self for an extended period.
  10. And like our teacher Padma-ji (Sharon Gannon) taught us, don’t forget to feed the birds! 🙂