This is why I practice yoga and why I teach. I don't do it to master the shapes. I use my practice time to look inward, to reflect, and to study myself (svadhyaya). The work is to apply all the lessons you learn on the mat to your life. The intention is to use the epiphanies and break throughs that arise via the shapes to be a better human outside the yoga studio.
" The point of practicing asanas is to become sensitive, attuned, and adaptable. Whether we attain great gymnastic abilities becomes entirely inconsequential in the context of Yoga as a life practice. If we become enamored with the performance of advanced postures and fix our identity on these achievements, we have simply replaced one false identity with another. Many students new to Yoga also make this mistake when choosing a teacher, judging the teacher's qualifications purely through the evidence of his or her ability to do difficult movements. When we realize that what we are advancing toward is not some physical form but an inward recognition of the truth of who we are, then we will not feel ourselves to be failing if we cannot attain difficult postures. 'Advanced' practice is any movement that brings us closer to this recognition of our true self." ~ Donna Farhi
"What would happen if we never put our foot behind our heads, but we lived in a state of self love from the efforts that we made and the ways that we coped with our challenges on the mat?" ~ Christina Sell
Friday, 3 June 2016
THIS QUOTE! It can be interpreted many different ways and applied to many areas of your life. Let's relate this to yoga.
It is important to remember that yoga is a practice that can take lifetimes to master. Every body is different and what might make sense to one body might not make sense to another's. For that matter, let go of what you think your body should look like or what you think your practice should look like. As we know, life is full of fluctuations- of ups and downs. We'll experience moments of great clarity and great confusion. If we can surrender to the flow, and release expectations and our need to control and contort, we have a greater chance of ceasing suffering, making room for freedom, spontaneity and joy! Thank you, Brian Andreas, for reminding us to not compare ourselves to others, for reminding us that we really know nothing at all, and that a lot of what occurs in life is out of our hands.
Tuesday, 12 April 2016
This week in class I taught on creativity and the 2nd chakra. Chakras are energetic wheels in the body and are associated with 7 different parts of our bodies. They're paired with different qualities that make up who we are. Often trauma, abuse, and/or what we're exposed to on a daily basis can throw off our chakras making them overactive or under active. Yoga - and other healing practices - can help us to rebalance our chakras and to reclaim our mental and physical health.When presenting chakras in a public class, I find some students check out- they look at the clock, or out the window or down at their mats. For some, chakra talk can be too ethereal or hard to relate to. So I encourage them to use this time to simply reconnect to the part of the body where the chakra lies. When we hone in like this, we often see that we've grown out of touch and we may discover that parts of ourselves have become numb, dark and disconnected. Through meditation, breath work, and movement we can bond ourselves together again; we can feel our bodies whole.
The 2nd chakra's sanskrit name is Svadhisthana which means sweetness. Its name is just perfect because this wheel works around our ability to experience pleasure. This is the place of creativity, desire, sexuality, movement, sensation, emotions, boundaries, and nourishment. Can you guess where Svadhisthana might be located? That's right! Down low in the lower abdomen, sex organs, between the pubic bone and the naval.
To stimulate this part of the body, we swivelled our hips - on hands and knees, in uttanasana (forward fold) and tadasana (standing). We flowed through the asana practice like water (the element of the 2nd chakra) and took postures low to the ground. Instead of chanting OM we chanted VAM (the vibration of the 2nd chakra). Side note: if you ever forget the vibration just remember Va Va Voom... it helps me. To theme the class, I highlighted the importance of creativity. My inspiration for this came after reading a chapter on nourishing the creative life in the book, Woman Who Run With the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I've been eager to share her wisdom:
"Creativity is not a solitary movement. That is its power. Whatever is touched by it, whoever hears it, sees it, senses it, knows it, is fed. This is why beholding someone else's creative word, image, idea, fills us up, inspires us to our own creative work. A single creative act has the potential to feed a continent. One creative act can cause a torrent to break through stone. For this reason, a woman't creative ability is her most valuable asset, for it gives outwardly and it feeds her inwardly at every level: psychic, spiritual, mental, emotive, and economic."
In meditation we sat with what creative acts nourish us. We contemplated if we gift ourselves enough time to create and if not, why not? It's easy to put "more productive" tasks in front of activities that are more mindless. However, these mindless acts - that are not for the intellect but for the soul - are essential; they keep us joyful, they light us up, and like Clarissa expressed they have the ability to feed our communities.
Personally, time on my mat is time spent with my creative self. I shift from my analytical mind into body and breath. There lies spaciousness for ideas to sprout and for my heart to overflow with ALL the feelings. Sutra 1.1 in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (click here for more information on the sutras) states that " In the yoga sutras, it is the seer or the true self who is to be discovered and known. Yoga is therefore considered to be a subjective art, science and philosophy." The wise sage himself understands that this practice truly is an art form!
This creative craft is taught by a teacher, or guru, who guides the student along their spiritual path. Unfortunately, it has become common for students to develop an infatuation for their guides, putting them on a pedestal. There is a danger here. If one idolizes another's journey they'll forget to nurture their own. Yoga teacher, Mark Whitwell, is passionate about helping others find their inner teacher. In his book, Yoga of Heart: The Healing Power of Intimate Connection he shares that "Individuals and humanity give their life power to authorities of all kinds (gurus, priests and scientists) as if truth is held by them and is not in your own heartbeat, breath and sex. You loose your own ground, the power of Life itself. When understanding that your ground cannot be lost, you stand in you own authority as Life itself. Then the mechanics of culture, of gurus, priests and scientists, become your own and are made powerful for you. These people may then become your equal friends in the obvious single condition that is Life, not your masters as if you are a slave."
Similarly, Clarissa Pinkola Estes believes that one's creativity can become polluted when "...one so admires the gifts by another, that one becomes expert in mimicry, sadly content to be a mediocre 'them', rather than developing one's own unique gifts to their absolute and startling depths. Perhaps one has become caught in a hyper-fascination or a hero-worship and has no idea how to mind their own inimitable gifts."
Experiencing a tainted craft is different than experiencing a block in creativity. Those who believe they aren't the creative type in truth really are; that side of them might be hiding behind a barrier of some kind. According to Estes, " there are many theories on creative 'blocks' (but) the truth is that mild ones come and go like weather patterns...". She continues on to say, "If you've lost focus, just sit down and be still. Take the idea and rock it to and fro. Keep some of it and throw some away, and it will renew itself. You need do no more."
To heal this chakra one must be able to flow like the currents, one must be able to surrender to the many stages of the experience, riding the waves up and down without drowning. Sometimes spending quality time with this part of your body, putting your hands around your pelvic bowl, gettin low to some reggae tunes, or getting completely lost in a delicious feeling will reawaken your creative spirit.
All I know is that after my chakra class a student bet that everyone would go home to "make some babies". My work here is done;)
Wednesday, 30 March 2016
" The funny thing about thinking you'll just sit on the sidelines & watch for awhile ... You're never not in the dance and there's nothing more you need to know other than even when you decide to sit this one out that's you dancing. "
~ Brain Andreas
Tuesday, 15 March 2016
Thank goodness we didn't talk style in this article. I wear tights and bare feet all day- don't ask me what's hot on the runway. We did talk yoga however. Check out my recent interview with The Style Spy (link below).
Photography @ Miles Clark www.milesclarkphoto.com