Love Serve Meditate Realize

Thursday, Oct 01, 2015 A Message from Marydale – October 2015


Paramahamsa PrajnananandaAt 4 AM I woke with a start to a voice in my head saying, “Don’t go back to sleep.” I popped out of bed after only three hours of sleep, feeling surprisingly invigorated, to prepare for morning meditation at the Kriya Institute Mother Center in Homestead, Florida. Having arrived for a six-day retreat at the ashram with zero expectations, an open heart, devotion and anticipation of the unknown, I could never have imagined the tremendous experience awaiting me. From the moment I stepped upon the holy ground of the ashram I experienced a continuous flow of love, goodness, kindness and profound spiritual confirmation.

The grounds themselves are breathtakingly beautiful, permeated with tropical plants, many of which Paramahamsa Hariharananda brought from India many years ago to propagate here. Stepping onto the land is like stepping through a doorway into otherworldliness engulfed with a treasure trove of lush beauty saturated with a distinct feeling of holiness and serenity. This sense of holiness permeates everything from the grounds to the modest structures, the space within the structures, the presence of the monks, the wildlife, delicious food and my fellow devotees. Convinced that you have landed in an altered reality, Paramahamsa Prajnanananda appears out of nowhere and instantly takes one’s breath away…and there it is—an instant of ecstatic knowing that you are in the presence of a God man. There’s no mistaking it. His massive aura permeates everyone in his midst with unmistakable, unconditional love, tenderness, large-heartedness and joy—pure satchitananda in our midst, personified.

Throughout the six days, we were all given every opportunity to lay our heads on the lap of God consciousness and exercise our ability to go within and discover who we are. In the process we were guided, taught, led, loved, encouraged and purified by fire that left us all more whole than ever to continue striving ever upward in Love.

That beautiful voice I heard has become a constant mantra, a reminder: “Don’t go back to sleep”—don’t risk losing consciousness again at the risk of missing rising through awareness into the bliss state myself. My resolve and intention is to stay awake, no matter what. It’s available to us all…if we would just wake up!

Considering the majesty and Grace of spending six days with a realized master, I have been left with my heart ablaze with his clear and simple message for each and every one of us: that is, Love God in every breath.

With blessings and love to you from God and Gurus,
Marydale Signature

“Love is the key. Waste no time, live your time with God; the time will not be wasted.” — Paramahamsa Prajnanananda


Monday, Aug 03, 2015 Uganda Slideshow with Kerry Morris


Uganda Flora

Kerry Morris is a student at Param Yoga who has a deep love of nature and animals. Recently, she took a life-changing trip to Uganda and wants to offer the members of our community an opportunity to share in her experience:

All my life I’ve dreamed of visiting Africa to see this special and spectacular country. I’ve always wanted to see mountain gorillas up close, in their own habitat. In June, I finally went to Uganda, in Eastern Africa, and my lifelong dream became a reality!

With much encouragement from my sangha at Param Yoga – especially from Marydale – I went through over 3,000 photos and videos taken during my trip and created a slideshow to share with you.

Gorillas in the MidstI am excited to share this with you and hope that you’ll see and feel how special this place truly is. Rich in biodiversity, ranging from swamp to grassland to near-tropical woodland forests, the flora and fauna are magnificent! You’ll see lions, elephants, monkeys, and, of course, mountain gorillas from two gorilla treks in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

Oh, and since this was a bird-watching trip, you’ll see some birds too.

I hope you’ll join us!

Kerry’s slideshow will take place at Param Yoga on Friday, August 14th from 7:00 – 8:30 pm. This event is by donation and promises to be a fun and educational experience, so bring a friend and spend the night with your Param Yoga community.


*UPDATE – Due to popular demand, Kerry will be presenting an encore of her Uganda talk and slideshow at Param Yoga on Friday, September 25th at 7:00 pm. Kerry has a wealth of information about Uganda, its people, and the native flora and fauna, including the spectacular mountain gorillas. Her presentation was fascinating and eye-opening to those of us who had the privilege of seeing it the first time, so if you missed it, be sure to join us for this special screening. As before, this event is by donation and no registration is necessary.


Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 Strike a Pose


2015-06-04 Dawn Kersten at the Erie Canal

Tree Pose, Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct, Camillus Erie Canal Park, NY

One of our students, Dawn Kersten, was recently visiting the Erie Canal in upstate New York. She and her husband were at the Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct in Camillus when he received a business call, so she decided to take some time out for a little yoga. As she was standing in tree pose, her husband secretly took a picture, which she sent to Marydale.

This gave Marydale an idea. Since many of our students will be traveling this summer—some to locations as far away as Africa—she’d like for the members of our community to send us pictures of themselves doing tree pose or some other yoga asana in locations around the country…and the world! We will post them on our blog and feature the best and most creative pictures in our monthly email newsletter.

We hope that you’ll participate in this fun project and continue your yoga practice, in one form or another, even while you’re away from the studio. Happy trails!


posted by Kirsten K.

Monday, Jun 29, 2015 A firsthand account of the Nepalese earthquake


Paul Sharp is the son of one of our yoga and Reiki students. He was living in Nepal when the devastating earthquake hit this past April and he agreed to share the account of his experience with our community:


Nepal 1In 2011 I based myself in Nepal in order to further study and practice vajrayana Buddhism under my teacher’s guidance. After becoming Buddhist in my late teens, this was something I had wanted to do and prepared for for nine years. Growing up in southern California, I was not a stranger to earthquakes and I knew Nepal was a hot spot for large earthquakes as it sits where the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. Hence, over the last 40 million years the Himalayas were gradually formed. Whenever I walked through the narrow Kathmandu streets surrounded by poorly built buildings, it often popped in my mind that Nepal had not had a major earthquake in about 80 years. I always imagined somehow I wouldn’t be in Nepal when the big one hit, and with that thought I would simply carry on.

Nepal 2It was late morning on Saturday, April 25th when the initial 7.8 magnitude earthquake began. I was in my apartment near the great Boudhanath stupa with my girlfriend and sitting at my desk responding to a number of emails. Often, when we sit still and focus on something for a long time, we can feel our heartbeat subtly vibrate throughout our body. In the past I sometimes mistook this for a small earthquake, and when the very first shaking began I thought to myself, “You are just mistaking your own heartbeat for an earthquake again.” A few moments later my room began to shake violently and I knew this was a dangerous situation.

My girlfriend and I were fine, as were all of our friends. Though many of my native Nepali friends were not as fortunate, as they have family members who live in the hardest hit, remote and devastated regions of Nepal. I could see on their faces their experience of suddenly finding out their parents or siblings were now dead or missing. Some of these friends of mine are very good meditators, lamas and yogis who have dedicated their lives to dharma practice, and the way they were able to bear the sudden loss and take even the most gut-wrenching of human experiences onto their path was a great blessing to witness. Still now, many people are physically and mentally suffering due to the Nepal earthquakes and need help.

Nepal 3Though I was physically fine, it was a mentally challenging experience to see so much loss, devastation and uncertainty. Particularly in a place I have called home for a handful of years and in which I have been so spiritually cared for. My mom (Amy Izenberg) is part of a community of yoga and Reiki practitioners at the Param Yoga Healing Arts Center and she, together with many of them, were worried about me and kindly made me the focus of their healing practice. I am very grateful for their positive and loving intention towards me during this difficult time. The care we can give to others is based on our genuine intentions and our connection to each other. This is so beautifully expressed by one of my favorite Himalayan masters, the late Thinley Norbu Rinpoche:

“If we believe in the continuity of mind, then love inconspicuously connects us to the ones we love with continuous positive energy, so that even tangible separations between people who love each other do not reduce the intangible power of love.”


Paul works with the Chokgyur Lingpa Foundation for earthquake relief in Nepal. To make a donation, click here.


Monday, Jun 01, 2015 Start Your Engine!

Rip EsselstynOne of our yoga students recently went through The Engine 2 Immersion led by Rip Esselstyn, author of The Engine 2 Diet. Rip’s father, Caldwell Esselstyn, is a renowed physician who promotes a plant-based diet for reversing heart disease and maintaining good health. When one of Rip’s fellow firefighters at the Engine 2 Station in Austin, TX found out he had dangerously high cholesterol, Rip put him and the other firefighters on a plant-based diet. The results were so dramatic that The Engine 2 Diet was born and has become a movement.

Our student, Ann, was glowing when she returned from her week in Sedona and was so enthusiastic about the experience that I asked her to write about it for our blog in order to share the information with our community:

The Engine 
2 Immersion by Ann LaManna

Ann LaMannaThe week was filled with amazing people—97 of us—two-thirds from Whole Foods Market, which gifted them with a week-long immersion into healthy eating to reverse serious medical conditions. There was yoga, amazing hikes, horseback riding and power exercise, medical lectures supporting evidence of a plant-based diet, nightly entertainment, fun and food—tons of food, all plant-based, whole grains, minimal salt, no oil. It was delicious. They took our blood labs on the second day and again on the last day; we will get results in 6 to 8 weeks to measure the difference a plant-based, whole foods diet can have on one’s life.

I have been vegetarian for 10 years, vegan for almost 4 (though not perfect), and I did it out of compassion for animals and the environment. As Rip Esselstyn said to me, “Maybe it’s time to do it for yourself and your health now, too.”

To find out more about The Engine 2 Immersion and Rip’s plant-based eating program, visit Engine 2 Diet.


Posted by Kirsten K.

Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014 A Passage to India

One of our yoga students, Josh, recently returned from a trip to India and wanted to share some highlights of his experience with the Param Yoga community. Here, in his own words, is Josh’s story:

In August 2014 I travelled with my son, Arjuna, to India for five weeks. The goal was to further our spiritual lives and to also, hopefully, have some extraordinary experiences. In the latter respect, the trip exceeded my expectations exponentially.

An Indian teacher of mine had advised spiritual aspirants travelling to India to “pack God in their suitcase”. In other words, God can be found anywhere. One does not have to travel to India. I, however, had a desire to see certain holy sites. Specifically, I wanted to visit Vrindaban (Krishna’s birthplace), Mayapur (a village where the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, a $50 million edifice, is being built—I am very inspired by Vedic cosmology), and “the Hindu rat temple” (an obscure place I saw on the internet where hundreds if not thousands of rats run free in a sacred temple).

My son and I arrived in Calcutta at 3 AM. The airport is very antiquated. Even more antiquated are the cars outside the airport. Every car looked to have been from the early 1960s. Arjuna described the cars as resembling the flying car in Harry Potter. He was right—it might have been the same model.

The taxi took us to our hotel. The door was locked, but upon knocking, the hotelier, who was sleeping in the lobby awaiting our arrival, opened the door. The hotel attendant groggily came from a back room, clearly also having been awakened. He was wearing a tank t-shirt. The hotelier yelled at him to put on a proper shirt. We were ushered to our room where we went to sleep. I arose three hours later, so anxious to begin my Indian sojourn. We were on the outskirts of town, but I managed to find a taxi. Arjuna and I then went to Mother Teresa’s orphanage. I was surprised to see the “slums” of Calcutta. I hate to use the word, but really it is an apt description. Signs warning against malaria were omnipresent. Trucks with large tanks were delivering water.

At Mother Teresa’s, a group of Christian volunteers was there, departing to a satellite site to help the needy. Arjuna and I were the only ones left. A kindly nun asked if we would like a tour. We went inside and were inundated with dozens of lovely, happy Indian children. The walls were painted with merry colors. Staff and toys abounded. The children were readying themselves for school. Next we went to the second floor where the severely disabled children lived. Once again, the environment was very upbeat, with plenty of loving attention. Lastly, we visited the preschool children. They were singing songs like “Row, row, row your boat.” We joined in. Overall, a blissful experience!

That afternoon we went to the train station to travel to Mayapur. The station master said, “The train leaves in 3 minutes. It’s the local. Run and you’ll catch it.” We ran and hopped onto the “local” train, which I soon found out meant third class travel. The compartment was filled to the brim with street vendors transporting their wares back home after selling all day in Calcutta. Baskets 6 feet in diameter were stacked throughout the compartment, filled with everything from vegetables to lampshades. People were hanging out the door as we travelled. Our own luggage became part of the stack of goods in the middle of the car. We sat on the floor, no seats available. People were smoking, laughing, arguing. One person was smoking marijuana directly under the sign that said “No Smoking”. What fascinated me was the camaraderie. Every time we entered a new station I thought, “There is no way another vendor can squeeze in here.” But, with the help of the vendors already on the train, another big basket was lugged in and added to the precipitous stack. Amusingly, I thought, “How will a conductor come collect the tickets?” I found out later that the government does not collect fares from third class passengers, but just provides the service as a public good.

We arrived in Mayapur train station two hours later. A tuk-tuk (3-wheeled, open-air taxi) took us to a ferry, which took us to a bus and we arrived in Mayapur. There was a big, religious celebration going on, but luckily we were able to find accommodation at the guest house. Unfortunately for Arjuna, no television. We spent four days in Mayapur. One of the most exciting aspects was visiting the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, which was under construction. We met the artisans who were crafting the large sculptures that would be housed within. Henry Ford’s grandson was the main benefactor. Ironically, he attended boarding school as a child with one of my best friends.

Our next destination was the Karni Mata Temple, which was clear across the width of India. The travel agent with whom I met said it would entail a 35-hour train ride. I said that was too long. He said the alternate was a taxi, a boat ride, a plane ride, and then another taxi. I said, “Okay we will take the train.” We departed from Calcutta. I was surprised to see hundreds (thousands?) of people lying on the immense train platform waiting for the departure of their train. I noticed a book stall hosted by the Ramakrishna Mission with an engaging photo of Swami Vivekananda. We were rushing to get to our train, so I did not purchase the book.

While waiting for the train departure, I began wondering what Arjuna and I would eat for 35 hours. Clearly these trains, built in the 1950s, had no “café car”. I happened to see a Pizza Hut, so I thought I will buy 4 large pizzas—at least Arjuna and I will not go hungry. I went to the “old station” next door to buy the pizza. In the meanwhile, a torrential downpour had begun. We were travelling during monsoon season. This must be one of those monsoons. Completely drenched, I returned to Arjuna and we boarded the train. The train was surprisingly comfortable. Now we were in “first class AC”—first class with air conditioning. We met the most interesting person—a Jain who spoke perfect English. He and his friends were on an overnight, religious pilgrimage. I never knew about the Jains, a sect of Hinduism. They do not eat anything that grows underground. Arjuna laughed as I asked, “So you’ve never had a French fry?”

The Pizza Hut pizzas were inedible. They had no flavor. Arjuna and I gave them to the conductor. Then, to our surprise, food came down the aisles. Vendors selling the most delicious tomato soup, vegetable chow mein, and veggie cutlet sandwiches, all for $.80 apiece. Even more remarkable, the time flowed quickly. The sleeping accommodations were marvelous. A Murphy bed, a curtain, and hand-delivered, fresh-pressed sheets, blanket and pillow were delivered by the conductor. I read Harry Potter and Arjuna studied his driving manual and listened to music.

We arrived at our destination in Bikaner and went to the Sri Ram Guest House. The hotelier greeted us, a kindly Indian fellow who luckily spoke perfect English. We came to learn that his father had started the guest house and was now retired. I met the father the following morning when I got up to do yoga on the cement landing outside my room. He marveled, “Westerners don’t usually awake early.” He and I spoke at length on spiritual matters. He was very wise and very friendly. That day his son took Arjuna and me to the Karni Mata Temple. Sure enough, hundreds (thousands?) of rats scurried over the altar of the temple and at our feet. Yet there were no rat droppings (someone must clean up). We were offered blessed food (halvah), which we ate. I then looked over and saw rats eating from the same portion.

In Bikaner we also had fun going on a sleepover in the desert with a camel and a guide. We also visited local artisans who spun thread and used a loom to make rugs and clothes.

Next we went to Vrindaban, birthplace of Krishna. Little did we know, but we arrived on the eve of Krishna’s birthday. On the actual day there were celebrations in every temple and in the streets. Flower garlands were offered to all, as well as delicious, blessed food in the form of an iced yogurt drink. Arjuna said, “I wish I could have five”—and, sure enough, five cups materialized! We became good friends with a kitchen worker named “Sim”. Sim invited us to his house for dinner. He lived in a hut in the countryside with five other men. He made us mashed potatoes and gave five rupees to a young local boy who ran to buy us a Mountain Dew. We rode back on a motorcycle, shouting religious exclamations: “Haribol!” “Hare Krishna!” This was Arjuna’s first motorcycle ride. An aside: in another city, we saw someone riding a motorcycle with a goat on it. Amusingly, while sightseeing on another day, a monkey stole my glasses.

The last two weeks of our tour was with a tour company: Veg Voyages. It was fun not having to worry about where to eat or sleep. We stayed at royal palaces and were given tours of the villages by a maharaja (AKA king—India is divided up into states; each state has a royal family, now in the seventeenth generation). At the village, we visited temples and drank warm buffalo milk from a street vendor. One of the highlights of this leg of the trip was volunteering for a week at an animal rescue. In India, cows, dogs, monkeys, pigs and goats roam the streets. Some get hit by cars. We tended to the wounded animals in a large sanctuary 20 minutes outside of Udaipur. Arjuna befriended a 3-legged goat. I became particularly fond of a blind monkey.

The trip ended. We were happy to be home.

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011 The Labyrinth at Rancho La Puerta

I returned to the studio this week after a transformative experience at Rancho La Puerta. I want to share everything about my week in Mexico, but there’s too much to tell all at once, so today I will focus on the Labyrinth. Rather than try to explain it myself, I will provide this description from the Rancho:

You are about to discover a long-dormant mystical tradition that insists on being reborn in modern society. Welcome…

Evolved from the spiral forms of nature, labyrinths have been known to the human race for over four thousand years. The Cretan labyrinth, Hopi medicine wheel, Jewish Kabbala (Tree of Life) and Tibetan sand paintings… all share the labyrinth motif and theme of transformation… either through meditation or a participant’s actual walk along the path.

Not a maze—which confuses the participant with game-like devices such as cul-de-sacs, false leads, high walls, and other elements of challenge—the labyrinth seeks to quiet our mind and lead us to peace and inner knowing.

Rancho La Puerta’s labyrinth is an archetypal and non-denominational mind/body/spirit experience, and is a replica of the famous floor labyrinth laid in Chartres Cathedral sometime between 1194 and 1220.

The path is a classical eleven-circuit design, a metaphor for our journey through life. One path takes you to the center and back out again, leading you through many turns. The six-petaled center is known as the rosette. In some traditions, each petal of the central rosette symbolizes one of the six stages of planetary evolution. Standing in the center, the first to the left is mineral, the second (moving clockwise) is vegetable, then animal, human, angelic and divine. Ten labyrs—the hourglass—are symbols of women’s creativity and power. Each two-thirds circle along the outer edge is a lunation that tracks moon cycles and may have been a way of determining religious feasts in the Middle Ages. Your guide to the experience will further explain may of these fascinating references.

May you find all you seek on your journey.


Before you begin to walk our labyrinth… pause and take a deep breath.

Allow yourself to focus and slow down. Find your own pace. You may pass people or allow them to walk around you. The path is two-way. If you are going in and another person is going out, you will meet on the path. Do what feels natural.

As you walk, you may either choose to let all thought go and open yourself to the experience, or you may consider a question as you walk.

The walk into the labyrinth is a time of releasing and letting go of the details of your life. The center is a place of meditation and receiving what is there for you to receive.

As you leave the center and retrace the path that brought you in, focus on integrating the insights you have received.

Each experience in the labyrinth is different.

The best way to learn about the labyrinth is to walk it a few times with an open heart and open mind.

Adapted from “Walking a Sacred Path” by Dr. Lauren Artress


You don’t need a labyrinth to create this experience for yourself. Simply walking in a spiral pattern or along a well-known path can allow you to free your mind of worries and chatter. Questions may be answered and insights gained. At the very least, you will leave the experience with a feeling of peace. Try it for yourself.

Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011 You’ve Been Served

OK, I said I’d talk about the food at Rancho La Puerta, so I’ll concentrate on tonight’s “Fresh from the Garden and Sea” dinner menu. The menu states that the meals are calorie-controlled spa portions, but as you can see from the pictures, nobody is starving here.

We began our meal with a bowl of Sautéed Asparagus Soup with Garlic Crouton. I have always been a huge fan of soup, and this first course did not disappoint. The soup was followed by a Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Salad with Sautéed Olives in a Purple Basil Vinaigrette. The simplicity of this classic salad allowed the flavors of the fresh herbs and tomatoes to shine through.

For the main course, my husband chose the Provençal Tilapia with Rustic Mashed Potatoes and Steamed Broccoli in a Wild Mushroom Sauce, while I opted for the Homemade Fettuccine on Sautéed Spinach with Roasted Carrots and Puttanesca Sauce. As evidenced by the picture to the right, I was unable to keep myself from taking a bite before snapping a photo.

All of this bounty was topped off by a delicate Neapolitan Flan for dessert, artfully presented with dried fruit and a sprig of herbs. If this is health food, sign me up!

Monday, Oct 17, 2011 Yoga Without Borders

My first Prime of Life Yoga class was packed with forty people. We meet in the Montana Room, which is huge with an oak floor, high ceiling, and two walls of gorgeous glass doors that lead out to lush gardens. The main wall has a giant arched window that lets the sun shine in, and there is a very large walk-in prop room fully equipped with everything one could possibly need. The class flowed easily with lots of fun, love, and acceptance. Folks were very generous with their comments and support, so I am excited to continue the journey today. I teach every day at 11:00 am for 75 minutes, and then Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4:00 pm for a Restorative Class. I feel tremendously blessed to find myself in heaven with the added bonus of being allowed to share the gift of yoga while I am here. I am deeply humbled and in awe of my incredible blessings. Life is beautiful! Shine on!!!

Sunday, Oct 16, 2011 Postcard from Paradise

Today was our first full day at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate Mexico and the feeling of awe has not left us. As we strolled along the pathways paved with interlocking stones, flanked by succulent gardens that shone in the sun, I couldn’t help but wish that everyone I love would have an opportunity to experience this beauty and peace. We have discovered that this place is an oasis where folks come from all over the world to reconnect with their bodies, minds, and souls with the goal of revitalization and calm. The entire property permeates healing, nurturing, and love. The nucleus of the activities of the resort are hiking, followed by all kinds of physical fitness classes, running, swimming, tennis and golf. Everyone is encouraged to participate in whatever physical activity makes their heart sing. Activities are set up in suggested modules that allow you to mix and match or simply follow the lead of the directors. There is an entire module for the week that is based on living in a meditative state that includes mindful hiking, golfing, eating in silence, walking the Reflexology Path, and meditating through a wonderful labyrinth each day! You are then encouraged to balance all physical activity by receiving spa treatments that include cranial sacral work, Tai Chi massage, Watsu water therapy, and dozens of other amazing opportunities. The payoff is…the food! The ranch has its own enormous organic garden and an extraordinary kitchen staff that boasts some of the finest all-natural, all-organic, to-die-for spa cuisine in the world! However…the portions are tiny (according to my husband), as the goal is to teach everyone that eating is nourishment, not gorging oneself!!! More to come…