Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Quote of the Day

Remember, in life, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
-Cheri Huber

...and here is a nice Yoga Journal article on the subject: http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/2246

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Thanks everyone!

Thanks for making the free Ashtanga week such a success. First of all, I hope you enjoyed the classes! I also hope to see you back so we can build the strength and flexibility that will make your flow classes flow like the breeze. 


Monday, January 12, 2009

More FREE YOGA - Keep on coming! (Plus $25 massage!)

Dear everyone,
Thank you so much for making our first FREE Ashtanga class such a success! The room was packed and full of good energy :)

Please come to the Wed (5:30pm) and Sat (4pm) classes as well! 

Build your strength, stamina, flexibility, and sense of calm well-being, and transfer these skills into any area of your life!

Also - One-hour Thai Massages on special for only $25!! We can work at A2 Yoga, or I also make house-calls. If you have any questions about Thai Massage, email me at lindsay.yoga [at] gmail.com

From my heart to yours, 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Free Yoga + Thai Massage!

Remember: There are THREE FREE Ashtanga classes coming up - starting tomorrow!

Monday Jan. 12th @ 7:30pm
Wednesday Jan. 14th @ 5:30pm
Saturday Jan. 17th @ 4:00pm

This is my New Year's gift to you!  Bring friends, bring family, get a taste of how Ashtanga can benefit and enhance any aspect of any yogic style.

ALSO: Feeling stiff or sore from your desk job or your workout? I offer 1-hour Thai Massages for $25! Wonderful for yogis, at an unbeatable price. Come talk to me about it after class, or email me (lindsay.yoga [at] gmail.com)

See you soon!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Internal renewal for the New Year

Blessings, happiness, and well-being to each and every creature on the planet. I hope the new year has brought you a sense of renewal and rejuvenation, both in and out of yoga class!

Try using this energy and this mental concept of a "new beginning" to allow yourself freedom to expand. Freedom to drop judgements. Freedom to be happy, even when (especially when!) you have been stuck in a pattern of unhappiness or negativity, for whatever reason.

It is sometimes all to easy to forget that, when negative thoughts are swirling, hooking their sharp little claws into our sense of well-being, we do not have to invite them in. Nor do we need to try to fight them, by engaging in escapist activity (or fight WITH them, channelling more negativity and upset right into the storm itself).

It makes sense that, as physical beings, our first two reactions to fear or pain are to either run away or fight. This helps keep the physical body safe - especially in pre-modern times. However, the problem is, these are usually the only two strategies we've learned to deal with ANY fear and pain, not just physical! And of course, these strategies are of no help to the mind/psyche (or the spirit.)

So what can we do instead? That's right! I thought you'd be able to guess :) We stop using a fight-or-flight strategy with the mind (which often leads to things such as nervousness/anxiety, depression, feelings of worthlessness or self-loathing.... a very long, sad list. Many of us have been there, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel, believe me). Instead, we being to practice simple, non-judgemental observation. "Simple" in this case does not mean easy. Instead, it refers to a quiet, uncluttered state or method. Trying to sit in non-judgement is very very difficult at first! From the time we are small, we are taught to express preferences, judge other people and things, rank things on scales from best to worse, most- to least-liked, etc.

As you can see, that's quite a lot of cultural baggage already. Then add all the SELF-judgment we continually engage in. Not only is all of this judgement painful in some way (to ourselves, others, or both), but it also completely obscures any awareness of the present moment! For example, one morning you get dressed and look in the mirror. A little voice in your head says, "You don't look very good today. Not good at all. You're looking (thin/heavy/short/tall/polka-dotted/rainbow-striped/whatever it is - take your pick.)

Now you have two choices. You can agree with that tiny voice, begin to doubt your clothing, your hair, your appearance in general. You begin feeling sad, like you are not good enough. You wish you were someone else. Feeling this way, you know there's no way you can enjoy your day now. ..... OR ..... When that little voice criticizes your looks, you don't buy into it. You know that it's just more unhelpful mind chatter. Where did it come from? Your parents? Your friends? Society's idea of "beauty"? In the end, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that you DON'T buy into it! Let it flow right passed you and return to your breath, or choose another mediational focus (a candle flame, an image you like, japa beads, etc.) Just like building any skill, this takes time. So stick with it! I promise you will see results; your head will be nicer place to be! :)

But what if it feels stuck!? It feels like this thought is driving you crazy! Well, it may not seem this way, but feeling comes first, and then thought/reaction comes a split second later. So, although it takes time, we can learn to experience the feeling, observe the thought it triggers, let this cascade of thoughts move through and be processed by the body, and then dissapated; thus breaking the habit of following the thoughts along their destructive course.

In many places, especially Western societies, being non-reactive to events (both internal and external) is seen as extremely strange, & perhaps even somehow "cold". This is an understandable misinterpretation. For example, when the Dalai Lama speaks about Tibet, he does not speak in anger. This confuses a lot of people - how could he NOT be angry? But the Lama is working from an entirely different standpoint; a different paradigm. He sees that anger and violence only beget more of the same. He sees that being "reactive" to the situation the way many people might be will not improve conditions.

Taking a different example, there was a monk living in the forest with very few possessions - a bed, a table, and some windchimes by the window . He had a young apprentice who came every day to study. One day, the apprentice way playing with the beautiful windchimes when they dropped to the ground and broke. He turned around, terrified, to face his master. Instead of anger, he was greeted with his master's smile. "You have nothing to worry about," the Master said. Those were for enjoyment, not for pain." This story is a great example of how even pleasure can lead to negativity & pain. When we are attached to something, be it a person, an object, or a yoga pose, we automatically create opportunities to feel pain if these things are no longer there/the same for us. By letting the positive thoughts of "like" and attachment flow past us in the same way, we approach equanimity from both sides.

The next time something goes "wrong" (start with small things) and you hear that inner voice beginning to judge you (or the situation), take a deep breath. Step away for a moment if you need to. Then try to approach it in a different way. Pretend you are helping your best friend or your child with this problem. Even if it doesn't go perfectly the first time, try try again. You can actually re-train your brain so that your automatic response to stress is more calm, less stress!!

In life, we all have our own completely unique experiences. But these experiences are inextricably entwined with others, and we are all brothers and sisters on this journey. Yes, life will bring pain and sorrow to us all. But it will also bring happiness and pure joy, and - if you are still enough to breathe it - inner peace. This is difficult work. Be compassionate with yourself.