I suppose this doesn’t really address the question, but I thought I’d post up a bio I wrote for the International Day of Yoga. It didn’t get used, but maybe that’s a good thing.
ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO
“Each one of us has access to Divine Wisdom and Infinite Creativity. This is the basis from which I teach, and the ground upon which my students stand, as we begin every Kundalini class with this mantra. I believe that every human being has Knowledge of the Sacred rooted within their DNA. Consciousness is the fabric from which we are spun. All we need are the correct inputs to awaken that understanding. This is one aspect of the ancient practice of Yoga, a realization of self for all. The practice of Yoga is like inserting a key into a lock. It is what our bodies were designed for, the liberation of our consciousness.”
Raised by hippies in the wilds of Canada, Laine Hoogstraten is a self-realized healer and teacher practicing Hatha and Kundalini yoga at Chaya Garden Ashram in the Cayo District of Belize. She established the ashram in 2012 with her husband and partner, Evan Anderson, Co-Director of the ashram.
Laine was introduced to yoga as a child, and was immediately drawn to study the practice on her own through books and television. She began formal yoga classes in 1985 at the age of 18 while attending Emily Carr College of Art and Design in the city of Vancouver, Canada.
Moving to Winnipeg in 1997, Laine started volunteering at an Iyengar studio in return for classes. She studied the precise asanas of Iyengar practice under the teaching of Val Paape for the next five years, becoming an advanced student with an innate sense of alignment. At this time Bikram yoga was being introduced in Winnipeg. The heated studio, (110 degrees Fahrenheit), was very attractive as Winnipeg has temperatures below forty for many months of the long winter. A renegade studio had been set up by a private practitioner, as at the time there were no teachers available. People were doing the practice entirely from an audio tape of Bikram’s voice. Within the next few years, teachers were certified and an official Bikram studio opened. This is where Laine started an intensive daily practice in 2002.
“I felt the years of training in alignment with Iyengar yoga were a wonderful foundation for Bikram, who places greater emphasis on effort.”
Laine opened her home as a heated studio in 2007, doing a daily practice with friends and family. Moving to Belize in 2010, and discovering a perfect location near the village of Cristo Rey in the Cayo District, it seemed the most natural thing to open an ashram.
“I had been teaching hatha vinyassa classes in Bullet Tree to guests from the Parrot Nest, as well as doing healing massage. We were located at what is now known as Raw Spa. I began to paint the sign for Chaya Garden Ashram on a whim. Higher Wisdom was directing me.”
Chancing upon Kundalini yoga teacher Caroline Barnes, Evan and Laine began to study Kundalini yoga according to the teachings of Yogi Bhajan in 2011, and three months later arranged to study in residence with Caroline for the next five months.
“I had been hungering for mudra and mantra for many years before I found Kundalini Yoga. I didn’t know that was what I was looking for. Eventually it found me.”
Laine took to Kundalini yoga like a fish to water. Everything began to expand. The instinct for alignment combined with the strength built by years of Bikram yoga were a perfect preparation for Kundalini Yoga.
“Having played the didgeridoo for twenty years, the Breath of Fire was already natural to me. States of altered consciousness had been familiar ground since childhood, and had been flowing through the arts of healing, music and yoga consistently in my life.”
Early experiences with hallucinogenic metabolites opened pathways for psychedelic knowledge of the glands, what Laine calls “the Exploration of the Innerverse.”
Yogi Bhajan says,
“I am not here to teach students, I am here to teach teachers.”
Laine began to teach Kundalini yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan, at the founding of Chaya Garden Ashram in 2012.
join us in this practice
Most of our current practices come from this awesome manual, which we acquired with a few others in a most random fashion, you might say an Act of God. This is an original from 1978. We are so thankful to have it.
ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO
Repeat it at least three times. It means and bestows Infinite Creativity and Divine Wisdom. This mantra also creates each one of us as our own teacher, our own guru. Through the chanting of this mantra we each are linked to the Golden Chain, becoming our own teachers in Divine Wisdom, that which comes from the higher self. In Kundalini Yoga, we are self-initiated, directly linked to Divine Wisdom without the need for a middle man.
This is not to say that the guidance of a teacher is not important, but to say that your yoga comes from you, so go ahead and give it a try. This mantra will protect and guide you on your journey.
This stretch, usually done with the toes pointing toward the face, was totally different and really refreshing with the toes pointed away from the body. People in class commented that it was a completely different feeling than the usual sciatic stretch. It’s effect was quite profound in terms of movement of energy within the body.
Bow Pose with Breath of Fire This one was tough for me. I just moved in and out of the pose as I reached my maximum. Give it your best, and come back to it as you can, resting when needed. It makes for a long two minutes. Breath of Fire is a breath in and out through the nose, activated at the navel point by pumping the navel with each breath rapidly. To get the hang of it, you could start by breathing through your mouth, and “pant like a dog” with your tongue stuck out.
Hope you enjoyed the practice! Join us at the ashram by making a donation to our Indiegogo campaign, you can share just by clicking the share button under the video, it’s so easy and we really need to expand our outreach. Give your friends the opportunity to support an excellent cause, the continuation of the ashram under a dry roof, and the unlimited sharing of yoga at a price all can afford.
If you share or make a donation or both, you will receive a video of the Long Time Sunshine Song, which is the formal end of the practice.
thanks for joining us
Laine and Evan, Directors, Chaya Garden Ashram
Yoga’s Ark sending out a plea for assistance! Don’t let our ashram be swept away this rainy season!
In the rainy season, we receive up to 5 months of rain. Last November, our creek rose 20 feet in a few days. This is a lot of rain and we truly need your help to stay afloat! 10 000 leaves get’s us a new roof.
Please help us continue to develop Chaya Garden Yoga Ashram as a unique and affordable international destination for yogis of all ages, levels, and incomes.
We are the directors of Chaya Garden Ashram, a place to heal and restore, a place to explore, the inner cosmos and the heart of Ancient Mayan civilization. At Chaya Garden Ashram we are a self initiated, non-affiliated, independent yoga ashram with a mandate to share our practice with as many people as possible at the most affordable price we can offer. This is an intimate experience of self-knowledge in an incredible natural environment brimming with biodiversity in all seasons.
My name is Laine Hoogstraten. Evan Anderson and I have built this concept from the heart for the last two and a half years, from an abused and abandoned property to a thriving yoga community! We have accomplished all this entirely from our own resources and resourcefulness, inventing this amazing place by the grace of the Primordial Master and our Divine Wisdom, that which is inherent within every human being on the planet.
Jungle, waterfall, yoga, veg cuisine, mudra, mantra and meditation… everyone of any age from anywhere can join us here in breathtaking Belize, Central America, for only $35 US per day. We are proud to offer a karma yoga program at only half our regular amazingly cheap rate so that no one who is genuinely interested in the spiritual technology of yoga need be turned away.
But! We’ve had our fill of buckets, bowls and pots catching downpours, streams and drops! We need a new roof! We have been blessed with a gorgeous but badly leaking thatch roof over our second floor open air yoga deck.
All about the thatch…Our thatch roof is over 40 feet in diameter and has about 10 000 leaves. The thatch is at the end of it’s life, and the entire roof structure needs to be assessed and addressed. We are committed to maintaining the natural vibe of the ashram enhanced by the thatch, or palapa, as it is called here. A well done thatch roof lasts up to 15 years, and is the perfect way to live in Belize. It provides a breathing yet insulated layer against both sun and rain, built entirely of local organic materials. Everyone in Belize knows that nothing is cooler and nicer than thatch.
Local Belizean contractors skilled in the ancient art of traditional thatch roofing estimate $20 000 US for the job which involves harvesting leaves from deep in the jungle and transporting these leaves in bundles of 50 at a time by foot and on back, to where they can be picked up by truck and delivered to the site. This also applies to the bushsticks which will become the umbrella-like support structure, and the specific vine needed as lathe for the leaves to be woven through. It is a big job and can only be undertaken according to the season and the phase of the moon which is most optimal for cutting the leaves and poles. Traditional builders know that it is only for a week around the full moon that the sap rises to the tops of the trees and the tips of the leaves. When the materials are cut full of sap, they will last for many years as the resin preserves the leaves and poles from the invasion of insects and damp. This ancient technology is preserved today by only a few highly skilled craftsmen in our neighbouring village. Every palapa built in Belize helps to preserve the knowledge of this organic traditional way of living.
Help us sustain and grow the dream of unlimited sharing by making a contribution to our Indiegogo campaign, and equally important, by sharing this letter of introduction with everyone you know. We have fantastic perks lined up for all levels of contributor.
Donate to our cause in a spirit of partnership, confident that your support will see the successful blossoming of a lifetime commitment come to fruition.
With heartfelt thanks,
Laine Hoogstraten and Evan Anderson
Directors of Chaya Garden Ashram
…couldn’t wipe the smile off my face
After five days, I was just totally sick of being tired, floppy, and grumpy. I had considered trying to push through to a week, but feeling both terrible and ineffectual was wearing me thin. On the other hand, I was sleeping amazing, having interesting dreams, (and remembering quite a lot about them), and my asthma, constant throat clearing, and sinus weirdness had all disappeared almost as soon as I stopped eating.
I spent the last morning of fasting making dehydrated flax crackers and zucchini chips so I would have something to eat with the guacamole I so desired when I was ready. I had read that coming off the fast with grapefruit juice was best, that it awakened the digestive system from a state of dormancy, and prepared the system to accept some food. I made the juice by slicing the skin from grapefruit given to to me by a friend from her farm, blended it with water, and strained it through a mesh sieve. I admit to adding a dash of honey and some stevia. It seemed to me that adding my new friend water to my juice could only be good, make it less intense, and also blender friendly. Needless to say, it was the best glass of juice I have ever had in my life. The flavour was incredible. I sipped it slowly, letting the juice stay in my mouth as long as possible to keep the wonderful taste of it on my tongue as long as possible no matter how I wanted to chug it back and just keep on having more. I supplemented the “urge to chug” with a glass of water side-by-side with my juice of God. After drawing this out as long as possible, my juice was finished, and I decided to just let that settle in for an hour or more before trying anything else. It was amazing how quickly my acuity returned. The feeling of cramping in my gut instantly evaporated. It was amazing how quickly I felt better, like, within minutes! Almost with the first sip, the external world became brighter and more solid. Quite suddenly I could see outside myself again. The world around me was looking beautiful.
My special friend and companion since childhood, Inner Glutton, wanted to eat everything in site. Luckily, my other friend who I had been dating on and off for about thirty-five years, Conscious Mind, was in control. A few hours later, and keeping up with my water regime, I ate a few bites of dehydrated coconut-plantain treats I invented, and again, was blown away by the total deliciousness of the flavour, then some zucchini chips with about a half cup of guacamole. I let that settle for a few hours with no discomfort or ill effects. Now I could stand up without a head-rush, and go up and down stairs without having to get psyched up first. My body picked up on the nutrients so fast. It was like I had blood again. That night, bowels moved a bit.
I’m not recounting this experience as a promoter, but simply an explorer, so I’m willing to tell the whole truth. That night, I was coughing up mucous, and when I went to bed, the asthma kicked in. At that moment after getting some reflex points from Evan and doing a few myself, I thought, fuck it, and took some inhaler. I was pretty disappointed. I was thinking, wow, am I supposed to be some weakling breathairian or what? Subsequently, I had a great sleep, and woke up with joy in my heart. That hadn’t been happening for a few years since I had been dealing with these nagging health issues.
I got up, drank a cup of hot water, cleaned up the ashram with Evan, taught a fabulous vinyassa class for two hours in wild humidity, sweat my tail off with my class, and made an outstanding lunch for a couple from Texas who had come to the ashram for yoga and massage that morning.
Truly, I felt really great. I virtually couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I guided the class. I utterly enjoyed making lunch. We started with a cucumber salad dressed in yogurt with cumin, black pepper and garlic on a bed of shredded leaf lettuce. I served a plate of black bean and guacamole garnaches, (crispy corn tortillas), and then moved to the main course, a roasted vegetable medley with sweet potatoes, white potatoes, onions, broken garlic cloves, and red and green peppers tossed in olive oil, seasoned with Italian spices and a dash of soy sauce, and baked crispy golden. Served this with a bit more guacamole on the side, and a simple beet and grapefruit salad. I ate a small portion of this, heavy on the salad, which was wonderful and refreshing in the crazy humidity, but skipped the garnaches. Continued to feel really great.
I thought, maybe this fast was more about emotional detox than anything else. The joy was ongoing. But my body was feeling amazing too. Bowels were moving. Less output, more often. I felt that I had really knocked a lot of candida out of my system as the usual puffiness of my belly had gone away. I really noticed this in my yoga practice, and my reflection in the glass doors of my kitchen cabinets. Perhaps it is logical to say, or even maybe a well-known fact (?) that yeast and grumpiness are linked?
I continued to eat sparingly, focusing on raw foods. My flax crackers came out tasty and crunchy. I had a great sleep last night, and really deep, breathing easily all night, no mucous. I slept through Evan getting up to put out buckets and mop the upstairs palapa during a rainstorm, (our roof leaks pretty bad) which is almost a miracle as I have always been an extremely light sleeper, waking for hours over the slightest disturbance.
So, let’s see…felt weak, grumpy and basically awful for five days, with a weird looseness in the joints that made me feel like a floppy marionette. Now I feel consistently joyful, loving towards my husband,(as opposed to angry and irritated over usually not much), unswollen, clear-headed, uncongested, breathing easily, no urge to cough, body feels fluid, strong and fantastic, and I’m sleeping like never before. Was the waterfast worth it? Probably. Let’s see how it holds. (Most likely to do with what, how and when I choose to eat from here on, and keeping up with lots of water.)
Will I do it again? I guess if I slip back into the previous state of ill health, I will. But it was definitely not fun, and I absolutely needed Evan’s total support the whole time because I was basically feeble. What I have found is this: reach for water before anything else, eat only at meals, and don’t eat late at night, (nothing after about 7pm). It is usual for me to fast in the morning before my yoga practice, so I’ll keep that up, and we’ll see how it goes. For now I feel high and happy, and I’m gonna go with that.
Beautiful rainy season is upon us in Belize, and along with the arrival of citrus fruits, we are expecting some cooler temperatures, heavier rain falls, and lots of busyness as more visitors flow through San Ignacio and the surrounding area.
We jump at the opportunity to teach a yoga class at Mystic River Resort! On their yoga deck, surrounded by some pretty old-growth canopy, there is little to distract you from experiencing the raw power of a vinyassa flow yoga class.
Intense focus and concentration, deep, regular breathing, a flexible body, and a positive mental attitude will be the fruits of your efforts.
This week, one of our students was no less than 86 years of age! It was an intense experience for Laine, as a teacher, and for some of the other students as well, but this student “Jackie” took it all in stride. I asked her the secret to her longevity, and she replied, that if there was a secret, it was moderation. Remember that in your yoga class, as well as your adventures. Moderation may be putting it mildly. Jackie did some amazing things this week, including being the oldest person to navigate Actun Tunich Miknal, ATM, the famous cave, and to complete a 15 platform zip line!
It was an exciting day for Laine, she taught five hours of yoga that day; Ka’ana, Chaya Garden Ashram, Xunantunich, and Mystic River. Congratulations! It was fun for me too, I did a lot of driving, saw some amazing places, enjoyed great weather and practiced two yoga classes of my own!
Anyways, have fun out there!!
Getting High on Kundalini Yoga
No body, no ecstasy…no glands, no God. Our bodies are the multi-dimensional key to all other states, all other planes. Without this “Truth machine”, as Yogi Bhajan calls it, we are ether with no drive, and no options. Within this incredible vehicle we are limitless. This body is not a boundary laden curse that is our cross to bear, but an amazing opportunity to explore beyond earthbound reality.
We feel. We think. We act. Information comes in through the portals of the senses. Does it come into the brain, or into the body? Perhaps both simultaneously. Thinking and feeling are so closely associated, we can barely separte the two. Our thoughts lead to feelings. Then we think about how we feel. Our thoughts and feelings seem whirled together, spawning each other, and leading to acts about which we think and feel. When we have a “gut feeling”, perhaps it’s really a “gut thinking”, as it turns out that we actually have brain cells in our stomachs. Perhaps we think and feel with much more than our “mind”. And what is mind? A combination of interpretations of “facts”, colored by feelings, distorted by our human spectrum of perception. Is a mind a brain? I think not! Perhaps, as in the idea of the Collective Unconscious, our minds are not even contained by our bodies, but are rather accessed through the physical nature of them.
When it comes to yoga, and more specifically Kundalini Yoga, we are given the power to stear and direct this maelstrom of thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. We are given the ability to direct the glandular secretions through specific practices; an ancient technology of the body. What an incredible gift! A technology so perfect that everything you need to use is exactly what you were born with. Within each human being on this earth, the potential of the Golden Chain.
The Golden Chain, as with many concepts within yoga, has various layers of meaning. In a more external sense, it is the link of knowledge passed from one person to another, creating a chain of linked consciousness that began with the first teacher of Kundalini Yoga, and now terminates in you, as you receive this understanding within your self, untill you pass it on to the next human, and so on etc. But this is of course not all. Through the technology of mantra, specifially the Adi Mantra as prescribed by Yogi Bhajan, (ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO), the Golden Chain becomes our connection to the Infinite Creative Force, and Divine Wisdom. And this occurs by the physical connection, within the brain, of the pineal gland (the seat and source of DMT within the brain), to the pituitary gland, or third eye. Could this mean that through the Adi Mantra, and the subsequent practice of Kundalini Yoga activating the secretions of the glands, we experience the release of DMT in the brain?
I am not a scientist, but I am an empiricist. I am willing to come to personal conclusions through the knowledge of my own experience. Through the knowledge of Self. I am willing to say, “Sure seems like it to me.”
“All is Mind” says the Kybalion. All of Nature contains DMT, and as natural organisms, so do we. The sense of Oneness within us may be the flowering of DMT as activated within the pineal gland, as perceived by the third eye. We recognize ourselves as God, and begin to understand all that is as being an expression of that. Perhaps we first know this through psychadelic metabolites. Now we recognize the territory when we enter into this realm. Now we take the reins with the knowledge of the ancients that has been transported into the present. Now we make this connection with the Divine on demand. Now we become Divine.
“God and me, me and God are one”- a mantra given to us through Yogi Bhajan. SAT NAM
Yoga Blog 9/25/2014
When it is quiet at the ashram, typically the month of September is the quietest, we don’t take a break from our yoga, no, NO! We are waking up early and doing an ADDITIONAL kriya before our regular 10AM practice.
In the yoga that we practice, Kundalini, there are thousands of kriyas (series) and we alternate between them; choosing from several books that we recieved as a gift during Sadhana (spiritual practice) on Yogi Bhajan’s birthday, and the hundreds of kriyas that are available online for free to anyone.
The benefit of cycling through many series; is that each one is an open door to the soul. The body is capable of so many actions, and it has been said by one of our teachers that kundalini yoga is the “I bet your body has never done THIS before!” game. Different series open different doors, stretch different muscles, massage different glands.
The benefit in repeating the kriya is that it is NOT a matter of mere repetition, but you go deeper and deeper into the benefits as you progress. For example, The Apana Kriya is NOT the hardest or most difficult kriya we have ever tried, but it does have certain unusual postures and movements, and enduring the full time of the action will lead to the most satisfactory results.
That said, elimination, apana, plays an important part in the body. Without proper elimination we are unable to receive the full benefits of prana, the breath. The bad must go out as the good comes in. This kriya has some very subtle visualization that enhances the imagination.
Engage the SAT GURU with the mantra ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO at the beginning of the Sadhana and close with a long SAT and a short Nam. Do this practice for a week and tell us how you feel!
The ashram is flourishing with the rains, a little in the evening every day. The children are in school (except in service days which seem to come every week!) so that monkey falls, the waterfalls adjecent to the ashram feel like a private paradise. If you are looking for haven for yoga in Central America, then look no further!