Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Quotes of the Day

"Yoga exsists in the world because everything is linked." -Desikashar

"Do your practice and all is coming." -Sri K. Pattahabi Jois ('Guruji' to Ashtangis!)

"Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory." -Sri K. Pattahabi Jois

"Before you've practiced, the theory is useless. After you've practiced, the theory is obvious." -David Williams

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." -Albert Einstein

Friday, August 22, 2008

Saturday Class: Mini Thai Massages!

Join me for Full Series Ashtanga practice tomorrow, Saturday, from 4-6pm. I will be offering a taste of Thai Massage during Savasana!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Quote of the day

One of my favorite pieces of writing by the incomparable Kahlil Gibran (the text of his book of collected writings, "The Madman", is available through the Gutenberg Project at
The Astronomer

In the shadow of the temple my friend and I saw a blind man sitting alone. And my friend said, "Behold the wisest man of our land."

Then I left my friend and approached the blind man and greeted him. And we conversed. After a while I said, "Forgive my question; but since when has thou been blind?"
"From my birth," he answered.
Said I, "And what path of wisdom followest thou?"
Said he, "I am an astronomer."

Then he placed his hand upon his breast saying, "I watch all these suns and moons and stars."

There is a whole universe within. We are all infinite. All we need to do is be still, and look.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Say Yes!

For one day, try this:

Say yes to your life. Meet each experience with all the love and acceptance you can muster, inside and out, body, mind, and feelings. On and off the mat, welcome everything with a loving heart.

If you stumble, practice self-compassion. Appreciate yourself for being willing to try this meditation.

When we stop fighting, when we stop struggling and complaining and making ourselves miserable because that's the way we're used to getting through a day... when we drop all these things, peace and joy remain.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Witnessing instead of Judging

"You have been taught that there is something wrong with you, and that you are imperfect, but there isn't, and you're not."
-Cheri Huber

From a very early age, when we are still tiny, helpless, and dependent on our caretakers, we heard things like this all the time: "Stop that!" "Cut it out!" "You're driving me crazy!" "Shame on you." "I'm so disappointed." "Why don't you ever think?" "What will it take to teach you a lesson?" "I've done so much for you and what thanks do I get?" "Too bad, you deserve it."

Even parents who are kind and loving say these things sometimes. Why? Partly because they're just human, but mostly because the same thing was done to them. They believe that those types of statements and negative energy are necessary parts of socialization. But they're not. They just teach us that we're fundamentally flawed, when we're not!

We are encouraged to look for flaws in ourselves, to judge those flaws & feel negatively about them - maybe even hate ourselves - and to then punish ourselves mentally, physically, &/or emotionally until we change. BUT! Judgement and punishment do NOT work to create change.

What we DO need to learn is: To love ourselves unconditionally, to appreciate ourselves fully for who we are, to have confidence in our own abilities, and to trust our own heart for guidance in life. Many of us have been told, directly or indirectly, that living this way is somehow self-centered. It is not. Living this way is the path to true love and kindness for the Self and all others.

We often feel fearful, angry, anxious, irritated, disappointed, etc. These negative emotions can often arise during yoga practice, as I've discussed before. Why does this happen? Yoga helps us practice witnessing the mind and all its movements. Throughout the day we use the mind and the intellect to steer us toward what we want to (or have to) focus on, and to suppress or steer away from things we don't want to deal with. During practice, we are witnessing the mind and the breath simply as they come, without judgement. That means that if a negative thought arises, we don't try to instantly shove it away. It has arisen because it needs to be experienced, dealt with, and then released. This release cannot be forced.

These negative emotions and self-concepts are NOT who we are. They are simply a result of what happened to us. It is sad that this happened to us, but we are stronger now, and all of it can be let go. The problem is, it's hard to let go, because it feels like letting go of a part of the self! Even though it's not, it's been there for so long that it feels all tangled up with your identity. For some people, letting go of things like shame, self-loathing, a negative outlook, etc. can feel like losing an arm! Some people are not ready to move past their own negativity. That's OK. But it is possible for each and every one of us to live in joy, happiness, compassion and contentment. If you are practicing yoga, you are already headed in that direction. Keep going!

So, what do you do when Negativity rears its head during your practice? First of all, keep breathing, maintain your focus, and remember that these thoughts or images, like everything, are only temporary. They WILL pass. You WILL feel better! Secondly, it's important to understand that negative mind chatter NEVER has any helpful information for you! It is nonsense, and should not be believed. You can think of it almost as a separate entity with its own adgenda: it is going to keep bugging you so you pay attention to it! And when you pay attention to it, you are feeding all those old negative feelings from childhood. Even though this feels awful on one level, it feels familiar and safe on a deep level, because of those childhood experiences we all had. We need to learn to not feed negative thoughts AND not to judge or turn against the Self for having them. They should simply be witnessed and allowed to pass away as with all other thoughts, like birds flying across a clear sky and into the distance. But negative emotions are especially difficult. This is where we need to separate the Witness from the chattering mind. The chattering mind is upset. But the Witness is always detatched and compassionate. We can all connect with this internal Witnessing mind and use it to deal calmly and compassionately with any situation, internal or external. If you take the most frightening thing in the world and invite it in, put your arms around it, sit still with it, and love it, what is there left to be frightened of? We are scared of our emotions because they can be painful. But living with repressed self-hate that breaks through to the surface sometimes is even more painful. At some point, now or later, you're going to have to really look and really deal with your emotions to see what's underneath, i.e., your true Self. And I am happy to be able to promise you this: it is a flawless, shining jewel.

Quote of the day

From song lyrics by Daisy May, a Michigan based musician I adore:

Oh my brother, don't give up on the world
Just know you can't seek shelter outside of yourself
Oh my sister, don't you get so low
Build a home within you, take it with you when you go

Wherever we go, there we are....

Friday, August 8, 2008

The physical benefits of your practice

When practiced on a regular and frequent basis, Ashtanga yoga has many physical benefits. It can actually slow the resting pulse rate and lower your blood pressure. It can increase the ability of the heart and lungs to deliver oxygen to the muscles, move the anaerobic threshold further away, release toxins from the body, improve overall balance, heighten awareness, build strength without making muscles bulky, increase stamina, and help in regaining lost flexibility.

To increase these benefits, do not practice on a full stomach - this is uncomfortable and will impede your practice! It's also important to be well-hydrated, of course, and the best way to do this is to start when you get out of bed, even if class isn't until the evening. Hydration happens over a period of time, not instantaneously. So it's best to be truly hydrated thoughout the day and ready for practice, rather than having a belly sloshing with water during class :) Some teachers even discourage drinking water right before or during class at all, because they feel this "puts out the fire" that we are trying to build up in the body. But, if you feel thirsty during class, I highly encourage you to listen to your body & compassionately give it what it needs.

If at any time you feel uncomfortable with a pose, don't do it! Flag me down and I will be more than happy to suggest modifications or alternatives. Practicing in a safe, positive, and healthy way is of the utmost importance.

This is probably just a reminder to most of you, but it's good to keep in mind! Every practice is different. Things that feel easy or available one day may not the next. Rather than viewing that as a problem, we use the opportunity to remain present in the moment, check in with the body, and do what's most beneficial in THAT MOMENT.

If you practice on a regular basis, you will see amazing transformations not only in the body, but also in the mind. In fact, one of the greatest mental benefits of yoga is that it allows us to slow the mind down enough to appreciate those slow, sometimes unnoticed transformations with great clarity.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Quotes of the Day

"The witnessing soul is like the sky. The birds fly in the sky but they don't leave any footprints... [The] man who is awakened lives in such a way that he leaves no footprints... he never looks ahead, he never looks back, he lives in the moment." -Osho

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." -Lao Tzu

"Asanas [poses] are a microcosm of life. They are miniature worlds filled with all the forms [and challenges] of the world at large. Our ability to thrive amidst those forms can be improved through the artful awareness developed in yoga practice." -Sharon Gannon & David Life

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Join me for Full Series Saturday!

Just a little reminder/invitation to our Full Series class from 4 - 6 p.m. today (Saturday)!

Also, on a different note, check out the 2 Surya Namaskar videos linked on the left :)