Notice – Tantric Master Jenny Duck to Cover My Yoga Classes

Jenny Duck
Jenny Duck, Palmengarten Frankfurt, is self-taught Tantric guru.

Last week my boyfriend and I were sunbathing on the designated sunbathing lawn of Frankfurt’s Palmengarten. While he reads the second newspaper of the day and fourteen newspaper of the week, my iPod plays back a lecture from one of my favorite yoga guru’s on the Tantric Shiva-Shakti philosophy.

The teacher explains:

Shiva is unchanging awareness.
Shakti is cosmic energy.

Shiva is immovable, eternal, imperishable, the substrate behind it all.
Shakti is the moving, creative force behind all manifestations.

At the zenith of the lecture, the teacher raises his voice and insists:

You exist. You are Shiva.
You create. You are Shakti.

My eyes glance to the pictures in the newspaper to find the most handsome national soccer players. As my attention shifts to the summer heat, the voice of the guru drifts to into the distance. I roll onto my back to let the sun hit my eyes.

A grimace of irritation extends across my face as I ask myself – do I get this shit?

Do I get what the guru means – that enlightenment can be found in the Tantric tenets “I exist” and “I create” ?

Sitting up slightly dazed from the overload of UV rays to my now tightly closed corneas, I see Jenny Duck waddle by. We had last seen Jenny Duck with a large brood of handsome ducklings. And here she stood, as beautiful as ever, but alone.

Sadness hits us. The late night nibbles of Red, the lanky city fox, decimated yet another fowl family.

Before moving onto the Finance section of the paper, my partner uttered rhetorically, what does she think when she loses all her ducklings?

I replied to his already distracted ears:

Jenny doesn’t think. Jenny exists. Jenny creates.

I turned off the podcast and knew. Jenny is my guru. Jenny taught me in a second, what hundreds of hours of yoga classes did not.

  • “I exist” means: I am alive. I am free. I am complete. No loss will stop me from continuing to exist, from doing what I am meant to do, from standing in the pure awareness of this very moment.
  • “I create” means: I accept the cycles of the material – birth, existence and death. Loss means moving into a new cycle of creativity. I cannot not create.

While we listen to the “Power of Now” for the 100th time to get over our lost dreams, Jenny will have swam, sun bathed, built nests, mated and hatched new ducklings. She is the Power of Now, the unity of Shiva and Shakti.

Jenny has agreed to cover my yoga classes. Please go to the park to meet a real guru.

Location – Palmengarten, Frankfurt.

 

Advice for Managing Energetic Farts

The conversation ends. But something still stinks.

We know it well.

Politely, we smile and nod, but our inner voice grimaces – what smells?

I am talking about energetic farts. Ethereal stinkers. I mean the invisible yet uncontrollable toxic wind of chronically negative people.

In most circles, at least where I am from, public flatulence is not really welcome.

What_smellsSure, we all have an embarrassing slip now and again. There are moments when that take-out had too much MSG or some school-aged child infects us with the stomach flu.

But generally, we make an effort to avoid sharing the backlash of poorly digested food with others.

The chronic sharing of poorly digested daily life experiences however does not seem to share the same taboo status.

My advice for managing energetics farts.

1. Check with a friend.

First ascertain your own guilt. When we chronically stink, we don’t smell it anymore. We may be stuck in a lethal cloud of gas and not know it. Stuck in the stench, we do not attract people and circumstances that are rosy.

We all have a few true friends, the ones who have stuck with us since high school and are not in the quagmire of our day-to-day life.

From a place of sincerity, ask for the truth and nothing but the truth.

2. Improve your digestion.

  • Why do I have the need to share my inability to digest my experiences with everyone and their brother?
  • What choices can I make to stop the bitching, the complaining, the snide remarks?
  • Can my silence smell of lilacs as opposed eau de garbage truck?
  • Can I recognize that my partner, my friends, family and co-workers are not the rest room?

These are the tough questions we must ask ourselves if we seek sustainable, personal growth. When I jumped on the yoga bandwagon, I began to read self-reflective books that prompted me to ask myself these questions.

Like any chronic condition, my emotional digestion did not improve overnight. I first needed to recognize what was causing the toxic clouds of negative emotions I emitted and change my behavior. When I survey my closest old friends, they confirm that self-help books are working. I am out of the sulfur pit.

3. Practice vigilance.

Even after digestion improves, we still have those moments where we lose control. Recently at the office, I felt insulted by one of the managers. I spoke to his team assistant Maria and told her the whole story. I heard her smile through the phone, even nod. I think I also heard the rattle of the perfumed aerosol can.

I don’t believe we can save the whole world, but at least on that day I could have made Maria’s world a bit less stinky. Life always offers us choices. I could have kept my comments to myself, wrote them in my journal, or even called the manager and politely discussed the situation.

4. In the event of a bad meal, stay home!

Just like that bad meal at the family diner, some days go wrong, completely wrong. In such times maybe it best to process very indigestible moments in privacy. Go home. Close the door and don’t talk to anyone until the cloud passes.

5. Stay clear of global gunk.

As we clean up our own cloud, we start to notice all kinds of stenches that we never noticed before. We realize that the world can sometimes be one big fart!

I can no longer inhale the poisonous narrative of mass media, the news and programs showing unnecessary violence, drama and sadness. I cannot talk about Homeland, the latest military conflict or even the “Top Model” shows. But luckily my friends cannot either.

6. What to do if trapped.

I have been thinking a lot about whether I am a spiritual wimp or a spiritual warrior. When I smile and nod at the energetic farters, I affirm that I am the rest room they run to when the gas is ready to blow.

While my inner warrior loaded with perfume guns is still in boot camp, my spiritual wimp employs the following strategies:

  • Divert – I act like I am getting a call or have to go to a meeting
  • Revert – if diverting fails, I recite in my mind: I am rubber and you are glue, what you say bounces off me and sticks to you.

I swear. I double dare you to try. It works just as much as it did when we were eight. When we thought farting was funny.

Half-naked, Vegan Yogini on the Beach Saves Rabbits in China

Self marketing – a tough one for sensitive yoga types like myself. How do I convince YOU to come to my yoga class? How do I keep YOU as a customer? How do I show YOU that YOU need me? (German version)

In a marketing course for yoga teachers, a Yoga mega-star recommended that you should market yourself on social media in the ratio 1/10 – that means one post about me and my courses. 9 posts about something else.

The result?

In a fit of boredom, here is what I came up with.

(Click on map for details)

My_Social_Media_Yoga_Experience_Part_I__Categories_

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Great. Save the world, eat vegan and all of that please in an arm-balance on the beach in your underpants. Oh – and do not forget to quote Rumi in the process.

What does Social Media Yoga have to do with my personal experience of yoga? Maybe there is a deeper answer to this, but for now I know I “like” the categories:

  • “Good Fun” posts – feet on the mat pictures aside, I mean that honestly. I like photos of normal people who are having fun – whether practicing yoga or any where else.
  • “Come to my” weekly class, Master Class, etc. posts. After the guilt trips about eating meat,  I am just happy to know where my favorite teachers are.

If we meet on social media, be warned that I will also post “good fun” pictures and our course my teaching schedule. (Remember, this is about self marketing!)

As for the rest? Never say never. I will definitely do another professional photography session – perhaps even in Thailand on the beach. It cannot be ruled out that I publish a yoga book and George Clooney does the forward. But I probably cannot save the world in the near future. What you eat and wear is your business, not mine.

What I can do is practice and teach yoga. To me, yoga means connecting with our souls, with our “I am-ness” and creative force. Until I manage that, I prefer to trust the power that created us take care of the rest. She seems to have one up on me.

Interview: Purna Jadeja – Perspectives from an Indian Yogini in Frankfurt

Many ask me why, as a yoga practitioner of ten years, I have never been to India. I have watched my peers pilgrimage there and back, reporting of Bhakti bliss. As much as I appreciate Indian scripture and its contribution to my life, I like to belief that I can experience inner wisdom right here in Westend Frankfurt, without leaving the comfort of my home.

Curious to know if I am right, I asked my Indian friend Purna to share her views on Indian spirituality and religion. She has been living in Germany for over ten years and has pursed her yoga teacher training in Frankfurt at Yoga Vidya. She now teaches yoga in town. I found it interesting that an Indian completed her yoga teacher training in Germany. In our conversation below, she shares how German and India compare.

Purna Where are you from in India?

I am from the northwestern part of India, Gujarat. There I spent most of the last years in India in the city of Ahmedabad, the biggest city in Gujarat.

Are you Hindu? Yes, I am.

How did you experience life in this faith?

I wasn’t very religious growing up. My first impression of my faith was hearing my mother singing morning and evening Arati everyday, going to the different temples of different Gods, listening to the stories of Gods told by different family members and sometimes even watching TV series about them.

Purna India 5We celebrate many religious festivals in Hindu faith. Almost every month there is a festival. And all these minor or major festivals are combined with specific food items, or sometimes also a specific color to wear. As a child I used to love all the fun things associated with the religious aspect of the festivals. Social gathering is another major part of it.

So, I would say, in general, it was fun growing up in this faith. Everyone is free to have his or her own interpretation of the faith. While some follow the faith with rigidity, my family saw the spiritual aspect of it rather than the ritual part, especially my father. We were always free as children to practice in our own way. While my sisters were interested in reading the holy books like the Bhagavad Gita, I never had the urge to read it and loved to read the interpretation of one of the Upanishads. That was the only religious or spiritual book I read in India. I was never forced to read or practice the faith in a certain way, and there was no judgment about it.

How and when were you exposed to yoga in India?

Hummm, do you mean Hatha-Yoga, by Yoga, or Yoga in general?

Hatha-Yoga was probably introduced to me in school during sports lesson, but just a few very simple exercises.  I started practicing Hatha-Yoga more seriously during my college years. I had discovered a book, found it interesting and started doing a few poses on the bed. My aim was just to reduce weight and look good. And then I remember, I was having fun discovering all the possibilities I had to move my body, or was just amazed what I could do with it.

Later I would practice Hatha-yoga with my neighbor friend Sonal on her terrace. Her friend was a yoga teacher, so for the first time I did Hatha yoga with proper instructions.  We used to get up at 5 am, during winter-time (12-25C) and go to the terrace to practice Hatha-Yoga .

And if we speak of yoga in the broader sense – Bhakti Yoga (bhajans, Arati), Karma Yoga (helping the others who need help without expecting any reward), Jnana Yoga (reading religious books) – all these were exposed to me without me even noticing when and how. It was all around me.

When you came to Germany, what surprised you about religion and spirituality compared to your upbringing?

It was different in many ways. Also because while I was growing up, I saw religion and spirituality differently than I do now. Let me also make it clear that I do not consider myself as an expert of religion and spirituality in any way. I am just reflecting the observations and experiences I have made in the two different worlds of India and Germany.

I found that in Germany, yoga aspirants practice very sincerely. They are learning something foreign, so they want to do it right. They are very devoted to Purna India 1the things they have learned, I do see sometimes also the heart and soul in it. Some go more further and even change the way they dress and eat, and so try their best to get the whole experience.

The desire to “get it right” however often leads to a lack of naturalness that comes from within.

On the other hand, they value the spirituality and religion much more than many Indians do. But this is also the way the human works, we tend to disregard the treasures that are given to us and look for something new. In my opinion, many Indians know the treasures of spirituality and religion given to them, but don’t practice it consciously to remember its great value.

Having said that, my observations of religion and spirituality in India are much different. Because religion and spirituality have been intertwined with Indians life for centuries, and is therefore deeply engrained their daily life, it does not seem to be something special or different. So, I started to see our faith as something special when I returned to India after living for a long time in Germany.

India is full of contrasts and it is very difficult to generalize about Indians. While some are very rigid concerning religion, others are not at all interested in religion or spirituality. Nevertheless, for the majority of Indians, the existence of God is not questioned. It’s a truth that they do not doubt.

So, even if the new generation of Indians tends to get attracted to the Western culture and lifestyle and make the impression of losing their identity, it’s still very much in them, so deeply.

While the Germans may know more theory than some Indians, most Indians embody the practice.

What do you think are the biggest misconception that German/Western Yogis have about India, Hinduism and Yoga in India?

While I was undergoing my yoga teacher training, I was confronted with the misconceptions of Western Yogis towards India in general. It was sometimes very funny for me, because many approached me asking different questions as if I were an expert on Hinduism and Yoga. The truth is that I am just a normal Indian who became interested in her own heritage on a deeper level after leaving the country. I also learned many new things along with my German classmates. The yoga teacher program activated much that I had heard in some different way while growing up.

One thing most of my friends think and believe is that All Indians practice Hatha Yoga.

There is a large group of Indians who don’t practice Hatha-Yoga, but the side effects of the modern world is showing up there too. Many have serious heath problems. That leads to them practicing Hatha-Yoga. There are also many daily Hatha-Yoga sessions on TV, and many practice yoga in front of the TV daily. I know it sounds strange, but at least that way they practice it daily. Most of the classes are held early morning, very few evening classes.

But concerning yoga in the broader sense, I would say that all Indians practice yoga, or most of them, their own choice of the way of yoga. Bhakti yoga is seen very strongly in India, the kind of devotion beyond the reach of the understanding and explaining.

Purna India 3Another thing they think is that All Indians have a vast knowledge of ayurveda and live their life according to the ayurvedic principles.

It must have been true in the old days, but today the modern medicine has taken over. There are many ayurvedic clinics around, but many tend not to use that service due to many reasons. There are very few ayurvedic doctors who have the deep knowledge of it and very few patients who want to learn about it. People just go to the ayurvedic doctors and ask for the medicines without trying to change their lifestyle. Many don’t like the limitations of diet an ayurvedic doctor asks you to practice. Taking modern medicine and getting healthy quick is what many want.

Some individuals do have the knowledge, have herbs and medicines at home and include Ayurveda and yoga in their lifestyle.

The original way of Indian cooking is very healthy, many herbs have health benefits. Luckily some of the herbs like turmeric and ginger will not disappear from daily cooking in India.

Another very popular misconception about India and Indians is that all Indians can dance and we dance and sing all the time.

Thanks to Bollywood movies, everyone thinks this way. But those movies have very less similarity to the normal life. Like many old civilizations, music and dance is a major part of our culture. But we don’t always dance and sing, nor can all Indians dance and sing.

Thank you Purna for sharing!

Purna India 4My take-away from this conversation – without trying to generalize for 1.3 billion people, the Indian culture embodies a deeper and more natural devotion to God. They express their faith in a very sensory manner – through vivid stories and rituals, festivals, food and color. Western cultures do not offer such an intense, emotional experience of God.

Our more technical approach to yoga in the West reflects our distance from the devotional aspect of spirituality. But does importing our favorite morsels of India’s culture and worshiping their gods and goddesses satisfy us? Should we perhaps recall our local heroes yonder years like the Germanic pre-Christian pantheon with Frigg and Wöden? Can Hildegard von Bingen and Saint Francis of Assisi lead us today? Or, is it time for us to discover that we don’t need to go anywhere but to our own heart? After standing in line behind the gods, goddesses, self-help book authors and coaches – our soul will be waiting.