This blog includes reflections, creative work and resources. It is a glimpse of one person's journey within the realm of inquiry, experience with the human body and spirit. Look for ideas rather than answers. No claims are made. Perfection is not implied. I write as inspired to do so. Take what works for you, leave the rest. If you share anything from this blog, either verbally or in writing, please do your best to give credit where credit is due. Thank you for visiting.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
I grew up rather fast, having a certain amount of responsibility without power to maneuver through. When my feet hit the ground upon adulthood I engaged with power, became very responsible for myself, for others and overextended my time and energy for years. [The jury is definitely out on causes but I did come down with a deadly cancer by age 37.] Although I'm getting out of the enabling business, I find myself occasionally livid with other people's behavior. This, of course, comes from my fantasy that others are actually going to meet my expectations. Now, STANDARDS ARE GOOD. They tell us who fits and does not fit into our lives and to what degree. What I need to navigate is the minefield of emotion during the decision process.
So... today I'm in the muck and the sunshine. There is a waving between love, truth and understanding and the basics of navigating my way in life, deciding who is to be part of mine and to what extent. My choices are for the greater good: inner peace.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Geography Of The Body
The sacred geography of the body is viewed by yoga texts and Vendata as a microcosm of the universe. The body itself becomes a temple, and thus the need for external places of worship becomes superfluous. Ancient practitioners used forests and caves as places of meditation, relying on the inner sanctum to meet God- their own true Self.
- #199 from the book 365 Yoga
Monday, June 18, 2012
Self-improvement has its place. It is the expression of Rajas. And I've seen a lot of unhappiness (imbalance) come out of the notion that we (and others) must always be improving or else _____________ (fill in the blank). "Unfortunately, by constantly comparing yourself to an ideal standard, you conclude that self-improvement is necessary for self-acceptance." - Byron Brown, Soul Without Shame, Chapter 12. [I am no master and humbly admit to being in a place (a lifetime!) of balancing the expression of control related to a self-improvement compulsion with the sense of Tamasic release.]
As the saying goes, "the only constant is change" or "change is the only constant". This and the balancing of duality are core aspects of Eastern thought. If the physical form is in a phase of perceived decline or in a state of dis-ease, there are opportunities to work awareness of the changes and find equilibrium with the body you have today.
There is one practice which addresses, and perhaps celebrates in a quiet way, the ultimate physical change. Most everyone does this in just about every yoga session. Perhaps appropriately, it is not talked about much but Savasana translates as "corpse pose". It is an opportunity to prepare for the biggest body transition we will all face, and that is death. Ultimately we will let go of physical form. The idea, if one wishes to embrace it, is to practice for the transition. Whether you actually reflect on this deeper idea or simply rest at the end of asana practice, in Savasana we let go of the body. We let it release and go to the back burner so to speak. In physical rest, we allow for awareness to step forward.
Remember, acceptance is part of asana. Listen to your self talk. Would you say these things to a person you care about? Another person in class? What would you say to a friend who is frustrated with her body with regard to asana? Sometimes we speak to ourselves in ways we would never speak to people we care about.
*Tamas-Rajas, Yin-Yang, Masculine-Feminine, Sun-Moon, Heat-Cold, Right-Left, Inhale-Exhale
In case of rain, I will send out an email regarding whether we will cancel or meet at an indoor location.
With the summer heat, it is advisable to bring a bottle of water.
Please note the 8:30 start time. We will return to 9am in the fall.
Although participants can "take what they need and leave the rest", the emphasis of this class is to cultivate awareness by using the body & breath and the natural environment as tools for concentration. I hope to help participants build a foundation for bringing yoga practice into regular life, even if in small ways. In the process we do indeed build muscle, stretch, move toward fuller diaphragmatic breathing and thus move closer to a little more physical harmony.
There is no class fee. Donations are accepted and these funds cycle back in to support my teaching path.
Part of the way I teach is through the blog, a good portion of which centers on my practice and understanding of yoga. In learning about my comfort with an inner world I've come to find writing is a way for me to bridge that world with the outer. But there are simple resources on the blog too.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
What I'm learning with self-study and maturity that comes from time is the idealist part of personality can be a stumbling block. Maybe you have to read and follow the book to understand what I'm getting at in this post. I do hope to convey here that we have things hidden away and it may be helpful to look squarely at them in written form as a point of observation. Thus, there is a little more space for your true, pure, radiant self to shine through.
In approaching the 8 limbs of yoga, reading and understand the lead-up in the yoga sutras is helpful. The first 28 verses present how to embrace the yogic system. The 8 limbs fall in the center of the text. A foundation of understanding is helpful... AND... isn't it just fine to approach yoga any way one is introduced to the practice? In the case of America today, most likely through asana initially?
As mentioned previously, I am studying Soul Without Shame: A Guide To Liberating Yourself From The Judge Within by Byron Brown. Interestingly, about mid-way through the book on page 158, he mentions something the inner judge does which is akin to Yama and Niyama: "... two broad categories: those designed to maintain control over "bad" or unacceptable parts of the self and those designed to move you toward your ideal of what a good person should be." Yama are things to abstain from; Niyama are observances to move toward, personal conduct in particular. Now, just as Patanjali did in the yoga sutras, quite a bit of lead-up has been provided by Brown on to how to go about approaching these aspects of human experience.
So, again, please comment if you have insight into the notion of how to approach yogic philosophy as structured by the 8 limbs. I'm not one for dogma and yet, will continue to reflect since my personality is one that appreciates efficiency.
The philosophy of yoga can be found in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. There are many translations of each. The Sutras read like a manual. About mid-way through the 8-limbs of yoga are covered. I read a word-for-word translation with commentary by V.S. Rao. The Gita is written in story form. I have read several translations but usually turn to Graham Schweig's Bhagavad Gita: The Beloved Lord's Secret Love Song or an audiobook of Stephen Mitchell's translation.
Here are some links to Amazon Books:
One source is the Self Realization Fellowship which teaches Paramahansa Yogananda's Kriya Yoga. His book Autobiography of a Yogi is one I have read half a dozen times. For a very low fee which covers paper and postage you can sign up to receive a lesson per week. http://www.yogananda-srf.org/
If one wants to commit, a training can be most helpful. There are many available all over the country. Some are specifically for people who want to teach. Anna Pittman's training is a year-long, meeting one weekend per month with assignments in between. Here is a link to her information:
One way to study on your own is to choose a concept and apply it to your life for a period of time, such as a week or a month. Now, it is not about memorizing or cramming for an exam. Read, embrace, let it soak it. Relax and allow for "ah-ha" moments rather than perfecting anything. Reflect on the concept, write about it and perhaps connect with a study partner to discuss it.
- yoga sutra #4 is chosen as a concept to apply to one's life for a period of time
- VRUTTI SARUPYAM ITARATRA
VRUTTI = modifications of the mind-stuff
SARUPYAM = assumes the forms
ITARATRA = at other times
V.S. Rao has translated this as, "At other times, that is, other than that of concentration, the Seer is identified with the modifications." And he continues with, "For example, someone abuses you; this produces a modification, VRITTI, in your mind and you identify yourself with it, resulting in anger and misery. You seem to have lost your original identity and have identified with your throughts and body. Suppose I ask you who you are if you do not identify with anything whatsoever. If you say 'I am a man' you have identified yourself with a masculine body. If you say 'I am a millionaire' you have identified yourself with your bank account. But without any such identifications who are you? If you detach yourself completely from all the things you have identified yourself with, you realize yourself as the pure "I AM". In that pure "I" state there will be no difference between you and me. And all is BRAHMA."
- To apply this concept to your life you can watch for the experience of identifying with whatever it is you habitually blanket over your pure being. Chances are great (although it's not impossible?) you will not forever remove the habit in one week. But as you practice you are strengthening the part of you that is the observer, creating a little space between the habit of placing outer circumstances onto who you really are.
In my experience, philosophy is about gradually introducing concepts into life. There was a period where I got too ahead of myself. It led to more confusion with some major stumbling blocks. My own habits are in themselves enough to deal with! So, I suggest a bit-by-bit approach to the material. It's far more important to apply what you can grasp rather than take outer concepts and force them on yourself. Good teachers are important in helping you do just that at an appropriate pace with essential guidance to prevent stumbling blocks.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
The 8 limbs are not necessarily linear. I see the limb system as a framework, a network, mesh. A new yoga practitioner may embrace just Asana for many years or a lifetime. Maybe some personality types enjoy a compartmentalized experience, sensing just the physical exercise. Separation does not happen with my more intuitive nature as I connect the subtly or seemingly unrelated together somehow. But that's me. The limbs interweave, link up in my experience. And surely I've mastered none of them!
Another perspective: some may be practicing a limb without even knowing about yoga. A limb can be descriptive, giving form to something a person is already doing, such as devotion to the Divine (Dhyana). And that's fine too. So, if a person goes to Asana class and has their own spiritual practice or observes devotion to God through religion, than indeed, they are observing more than one limb.
All this said, I feel it is educational for those interested in yoga practice to receive from somewhere a general knowledge of yogic philosophy. A teacher providing the information does not equate any sort of requirement on the part of the newer practitioner. Nor does the lesson have to be exhaustive. A general outline to possibly plant a seed can be plenty. From there one can find the teacher, class, materials and guidance that makes sense.
In closing, yoga is a practice, not dogmatic religion.
When bringing the hands together in front of the heart chakra, allow some space between the palms. If you wish, imagine this space to hold the energetic dance of the right brain-left brain or masculine/yang-feminine/yin. Can you feel the meeting place of the "positive space" (fullness of the flesh & bones of the hands) and the "negative space" (the seemingly emptiness between the hands)?
Within this mudra is opportunity to turn to a softened heart, even for just one breath cycle.
Affirmations to partner with this mudra:
"Everything is good & perfect." Or Gertrud Hirschi's suggestion, "Full of thankfulness, I receive the good that waits for me."
Friday, June 1, 2012
Today I experienced, really felt, how anger points to where external circumstances poke at the sense of who we think we are. There's that part of ourselves and then, the deeper and the truer. There is the unshakable, beautiful Self that is a child of God. No matter what life tosses on our path, the source is there deep down, deep within and can be touched in the silence. When accessed, we soften.
It has been tempting for me in the past to judge myself for getting angry, even more so when I judge the situation to be trivial. With this more recent ta-do, I rode it out, allowing for the experience. I used the feelings as a point of entry into the body. Interestingly, the chapter I studied in Soul Without Shame called for just this!