Saturday, December 12, 2015

Yoga’s revival in India tied in to its growth in the West

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India on the occasion of International Day of Yoga celebrations, New Delhi, India

By Mohan Ashtakala

When the United Nations, under the guidance of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, declared June 21 to be the International day of yoga, it marked a remarkable turnaround for the ancient spiritual practice in its home country. Modi’s request at the United Nations received overwhelming support from 177 countries.
But strangely, in its home country of India, yoga was not valued even till a few decades ago. “In the 1930s, under the British, yoga was not respected”, B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the giants of modern yoga narrated. “I feel that only after yoga took roots in the west, Indians also opened up it,” he added.
One of the overarching goals of British colonialism was to replace traditional Indian knowledge with an English one. The two main reasons for this: one, to generate leaders and administrators who would be more capable administrators of the Empire and secondly, to create a more subservient nation which would not value its own culture and adopt the British one, and thus prolong colonial rule. An English education would become a prerequisite for entry into the powerful and lucrative government services, as well as the lingua-franca of mobility in the Empire.
One of the more important decisions taken by the colonial administration was to replace Sanskrit education with an English one. In this, they were extraordinarily successful. Sanskrit education, once remarkably widespread throughout India, served as the conduit for Indian traditions such as Yoga, Ayurveda and Hindu philosophical systems, but is, currently, practically dead. Furthermore, the governments that followed Indian independence, which inherited the colonialist administration system, viewed with suspicion most forms of Indian traditional systems of knowledge.
Swami Prabhupada
While Iyengar or Pattabhi Jois and others may get intellectual support for their work in popularizing yoga in the West, the main proponents of yoga must be the “gurus” of the sixties and the seventies, such as Yogananda, Swami Vishnu Devananda, Yogi Bhajan, and Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who introduced Bhakti yoga to the west. These teachers moved to America, set up ashrams and schools and worked at the ground level with their American students and followers. Their work, along with others such as Neem Karoli Baba, Swami Radha, Amritananda Mayi and others, have been, and continue to be, much more important in yoga’s spread.
But even more important are the thousands of individual Western teachers, mostly women, who invested their own money to open up of yoga studios and train teachers around the world. Organizations such as the Yoga Alliance, among others, have been the backbone by which this effort succeeded.
Swami Ramdev
And the ripple effects of this explosion can now be felt in India. The work of Swami Ramdev, from the mid nineteen-nineties, has been seminal. In Haridwar, India, he has established the world’s largest center for Yoga and Ayurveda, called Patanjali Yogpeeth. It includes a Yoga University, an Ayurvedic hospital, a yoga hall of 25,000 square meters, a thousand apartments for guests, conference halls, cafeterias, and several apartment blocks for permanent residents.
India has now embraced yoga. Examples abound: the Indian Railways, the country’s largest employer, has made yoga compulsory for its employees; it is now being taught in all government schools; thousands daily attend yoga camps, and even the Indian army practices yoga. And under the leadership of the current Prime Minister, India’s trend of reclaiming her cultural and historical heritage is now gathering momentum.

Mohan Ashtakala is the author of "The Yoga Zapper - A Novel." 


Friday, December 11, 2015

Our "Wounded Warriors" by Karla Stover

     The official Wounded Warriors Project registered for organization on February 23, 2005. The project I participate in isn't quite that old.
     Not many people know that National Garden Clubs are actively involved in community services. When I joined Root and Bloom Garden Club in January 2008, the members were looking for a community project and I suggested doing something for the residents at the Washington Soldier's Home and Colony, locally known as the Orting Soldier's Home because of its location on the edge of Orting in the Puyallup Valley. Using club money, a donation from the Mary Ball Chapter of DAR, and a grant from the Tacoma Garden Club, we planted over 400 daffodil bulbs. This led to a residents' garden club. Throughout spring and summer, we help those interested plant vegetable gardens in planter boxes raised to accommodate wheelchairs, and provide the plants and seeds they request. When the produce is ready for harvest, we have a feed. And at Christmas we buy the club members gifts. My husband and I delivered them yesterday.
     I learned, yesterday, that the last surviving WWI resident died recently but that there are still quite a few men and a few women (who have a Red Hat Club in the home) from WWII. I would love to record their war experiences and create a book but it's been my experience that soldiers don't like to talk about the war.
     However, getting back to their Christmas Wish Lists--so poignant. The government has cut back on many of their services (one reason they love the daffodils in bloom) and they want such basic things as shampoo, laundry detergent, and stick deodorant. Almost every list included Irish Spring soap and many also wanted V8 juice and sugar free chocolate. There were requests for handkerchiefs, Kleenex, and small boxes of apple juice. Usually we buy the items using some of our treasury money but this year the ladies took names, bought all the items requested and put them in Christmas bags.
     We can't all make monthly monetary donations as their ad requests but most of us can do little things to show our Wounded Warriors that we haven't forgotten them and that we care.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


We’ve all had those feelings, the sensation of someone watching over us, protecting us, maybe even guiding us. We’ve all stopped a little early at a traffic light to magically miss a crazy driver speeding though a red light. We’ve all gotten those mystical reminders to make a phone call, check the cookies in the oven, or pay just a little more attention to what another person is saying. Take an umbrella. Have that mole looked at. Buy that stock. In most cases, these thoughts were not in our heads one minute, then blazing bright as a neon light the next. Just how are we thinking of these things?

Our brains are amazing machines, constantly multitasking and seeing or recognizing things long before our consciousness is aware. This is such a cool concept, but the brain can not, and may never, be fully explained. That makes it kind of a magical organ, functioning right there in our own head. It runs the heart, the senses, the creative, and our personal perception of reality. If that’s not magic, I can’t imagine what is.

Even with the brain’s astounding ability do so many things; I’m always curious about those particular questions above. Why did we take a different route to work, avoiding a tragic ten car pile up? What made us think to call an old friend just when that person needed to hear a friendly voice? Perhaps the brain can see into the future and lead us to these decisions, or perhaps it’s something else altogether. Perhaps it’s a guardian angel.

Angels have been part of the human experience since humans became human. Some ancient aboriginal cultures called them spirits. Some called them teachers or guides. Almost all the old religions have stories of angels, winged creatures of kindness, or judgment, or even wrath. A few claim that dead relatives are their personal angels. How many times has something occurred that made you smile and open your wallet because, “Dad’s telling me to buy a lottery ticket.” Look around. People you know may even seek guidance from angels through angel card readers and mediums.

The 21st century is loaded with technology but still filled with people seeking a guardian angel to assist in everyday dealings, or help them through terrible events. I bet there’s even an app for our cell phones all primed to interaction with your personal guardian angel. It’s a sad imagining, with the likes of the Archangel Makha’el wearing Coke-bottle thick glasses, torn jeans, and an I Heart Guidance tee shirt, leaning in at a computer screen to develop the perfect app.

Personally, I think there is an angel in everyone’s life, sitting at our shoulder and watching over us. Have you met yours? How has your angel helped you lately?

Christmas Card by Cheryl Wright

I love it when I can make something totally unique, and this card falls into that category.

I began this by masking off an area of the card so only a circle of script was stamped. Then, using gold ink and Stampin Up Gorgeous Grunge - which is basically dots and blobs - I randomly stamped over the front of the card front.

To make the star, I used some recycled cardboard, and ripped off the outer layer so the ripped area shows, then cut the shape using a die. Using the same gold ink, I rubbed the cardboard across the ink pad to get some shimmer going.

This was added to the car, a bow added, and a smaller gold star. A greeting was stamped and added.

Last, but not least, I scattered some smaller gold stars around.

Here's a close up of the focal area:

I hope you've enjoyed this card. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time!


My website: 
BWL website:

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Killarney Sheffield - Why Authors Have An Office

Available at all your online retailers including BWL's Bogo Store

          After five years of being a published author with a full house of five kids I finally broke down and insisted I needed an office. My family looked at me as if I had grown another head! Firm in my resolve I pointed to the insanely hot in the summer, and ridiculously cold in the winter, sunroom and claimed it as my own. It made perfect sense to me. Here was a room crammed with Christmas decorations, forgotten Easter baskets, the treadmill I fully intended to use… someday, and miscellaneous odds and ends that needed a place to call home. Both the unused desks in the corner, my maps, reference books, writing awards, plot binder, pens, pencils, promotional items and signed copies of my books would fit in there, if I crammed them carefully, I insisted. No one was quite convinced, so I got tough and because I’m an author I wrote out the reasons why I should get the sunroom as an office:

1)      My writing disaster of reference materials would be easily accessed and easily hid.
2)      No one could complain my collection of plot notes written on various colored sticky notes stuck to every available surface such as walls, desks, windows and chairs.
3)      With the doors shut the kids would not be subjected to my Regency, Victorian and Georgian dictionary of rude and vulgar slang and cuss words my characters on occasion use, that tends to exit from my mouth to the page.
4)      No one would be faced with just how crazy I am when I have hour long, out loud conversations with my characters complete with arguments and the above mentioned cuss words.
5)      The kids would not be tempted to call 9ll when they realize I have been staring at the wall in a catatonic like state for two hours mumbling, “not writer’s block again…”
6)      And last, but not least, no one would be subjected to gleeful cackling when the villain in my stories meet their just reward at the hands, or should I say teeth of an overprotective pony, or a rampaging tiger. We all know payback is very sweet!

So in the end I fought a hard battle and won my very first ever office all my own, where I sweat all
summer and wear layers of clothing like a bag lady all winter. Some days I curse my decision when I feel like I missed something interesting in the real world beyond the doors that is my chaotic home, or when I run out of tissue to stem the flow of snot-cycles attempting to form on the end of my nose, or when even my eyeballs seem to be sweating from the heat. Other days I am extremely pleased I can shut the door and block life out and sink into the 1800’s when things were simpler, or perhaps a little more wild than life on a Canadian prairie cattle ranch. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Books We Love New Releases

Books We Love has some fantastic new releases for December.  Don't forget, all Books We Love authors are experienced pros with years of experience and when you buy one of their books you know you're getting a quality book -- great for personal reading and gift giving.  The prices couldn't be better at $2.99 for individual books and you'll find these books at your favorite online retailers: Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Nook, All Romance Ebooks, wherever you like to shop, and many of these books are in print - ask for them at your favorite bookstore. 




Titillating preview by J.C. Kavanagh

WINNER Best Young Adult Book 2016, The Twisted Climb I've been prepping for Autumn book signings and excited to meet new and...