Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Yoga? Religion? Harry Potter?







It's funny, because as I started to upload this blog, I saw my last blog which was about a quote tying together yoga & religion (and Harry Potter).  And that's what this blog is about too, in a different way.

I recently read an article in which a yoga teacher was quoted as saying yoga is a religion.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I was pretty surprised by this.  In my time as a teacher, teaching & learning, I don't recall hearing anyone describe yoga as a religion.  And for me, I certainly don't teach yoga as a religion.  (I'll talk about "namaste" & prayer hands next week.)

Yoga as we are most familiar with it here, in this culture, is a focus on the poses, or "asanas".  But there's certainly more to yoga than the poses.  That's what I try to get at in this blog...I'm not suggesting you take your yoga poses off your mat (although that does help sometimes!).  I'm suggesting you explore the other pieces of yoga & take them off your mat.

What are the other pieces of yoga?  The poses, or asanas, are part of the 8 Limbs of Yoga as laid in the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali.  If this is new to you - hang on!  Stay with me!  "Sutra" can be translated as "thread" & these "threads" talk about the practice of yoga.

In these threads are the 8 limbs.  And asana is one of them. I'm not going to list the others now - you can easily look them up & each of them is worthy of their own blog.

For me, the best description of the Yoga Sutras & the practice of yoga, is that it is a practical guide for overcoming daily suffering.  Not a religion.  A practical guide. (and yes, if you have knowledge of the Sutras, I realize this is a pretty simplified description).

You might say "daily suffering?! I don't suffer daily!". 

Do you worry?  Are you stressed?  Do you gossip?  Are you distracted?  Are you missing the joy in the moment & in your life because of these things?  If you answered yes...you're suffering.  Or at least, there could be more joy in your life.

And that's part of how I approach & teach yoga.  As a practical way to improve the quality of your life.  Even if you just come for the physical practice, the poses, the asanas, & you feel better because of those.  You feel better - you're not suffering - you're improving the quality of your life.

I say that it's part of how I approach & teach yoga because I also mentioned in my last blog that yoga is about opening yourself up.  And for me personally, yoga is a spiritual practice.  I bring as much of the Sutras & the 8 Limbs as I can into my teaching.  But I also bring in the Law of Attraction & other ideas that are important for me - I think every teacher does that.  But I also try to keep it practical.  And my hope is that some of what I practice & teach lands with you & you can take it off your mat.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Harry Potter & Yoga





One of my students recently shared an article on my FB page "Yoga Leads to Satan, Says Northern Ireland Priest".

I don't usually respond to articles like this. For me, it's the practice of the Law of Attraction.  I don't want to focus on negative stuff because I don't want to give it energy.  I want to focus on the positive & give energy to that.

But this article had a few interesting comments that I couldn't resist responding to:

1.  Reading Harry Potter leads to evil.

2.  A yoga teacher from Derry, Ireland who was quoted saying "In all the time I've been teaching, not one person has ever expressed an interest going deeper into the spiritual elements of yoga"

3.  The one that really caught my attention & got me thinking: "those enjoying yoga...are taking risks with their spiritual health opening themselves up..."

Ok, so honestly, I included #1 just because I think it's funny.  I've read some of the Harry Potter books (not all) & I definitely don't feel inclined to evil.  But maybe I missed the turning point because I stopped reading just in time!

#2 makes me a little sad.  I love the physicality of yoga, especially the power practice that I /we teach at my studio.  But there's way more to it than that.  And to hear that someone has been teaching & never been asked by students about the spiritual piece?  I don't know...maybe shes only been teaching for a couple months (joking!).

And then #3.  The most-noteworthy for me.  Because for me, a big piece of yoga is all about opening yourself up.  And it sure is risky all right!  Seriously.  Obviously, you open up your physical body - nothing too crazy there.  But you also open up your mind & question the way you live your life.  You open your eyes & see things differently or things that you've never seen before.  You open your heart - that's the riskiest of all.  You let yourself love others, you let others love you, and you love yourself.  Unconditionally.  And that's something this world needs more of.

I'll take it.  Yoga & the risks.  And I'll continue to encourage everyone I know to do that same.

(and I may even finish reading the Harry Potter books too!)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Winter Wonderland?








Yesterday morning I attempted to post the above photo & video to FB.  My plan was to join my fellow New Englanders in complaining about the cold, snowy winter.  I couldn't do it - it wouldn't post.  FB didn't stop me & it wasn't for lack of trying.  It was most likely, as we say in my house, operator error:)

I took it as sign.  Stop complaining.  It's New England & it's winter - what'd you expect?

I've definitely been complaining about the weather.  We returned home from Florida just over a week ago - that's been a really challenging adjustment!  Snowpants, hat, gloves vs. shorts & a t-shirt.  What do you think?

But, here we are....again!  I wrote a blog last winter about why it's great to live in New England in the winter.  For many of the same reasons I'm writing this blog.  To create a shift.  Now, I can't say I've totally managed to embrace the weather & do a total turnaround, but I sure am trying. 

It was cold outside today.  But it was bright & sparkly & sunny outside too. Our son, like so many kids his age, loves the snow!  We have a warm, toasty home to come inside to after being outdoors.  This morning, I saw cardinals in a bush behind our house - the contrast of the red bird in the white snow was beautiful.  Everywhere we go, things look different & it's interesting to reflect on that.

Alot of beauty, alot to be grateful for.

I'm not saying it's easy.  But it's a practice.  And just like my yoga practice on my mat, when I focus on what's going right & what I have to be grateful for, life is better.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pixie Dust



One of my friends recently completed a week long yoga training.  We talked about it when she was finished & she told me how much she loved it.  She loved the training, she loved learning about yoga...and even more than that, she loved being surrounded by people who love yoga.  She said it was like "yoga pixie dust".  Everyone was kind & open & supportive.  It was a wonderful experience & it was wonderful to be part of that kind of a group of people.

If you've never experienced it, the best example I can think of is in contrast: being part of a group of people who complain all day, talk about others behind their back & think that nothing is going work or get better.  Sadly, most of us have had some kind experience with this example.

I've been teaching for over a decade now & so there's an abundance of yoga pixie dust in my life. Most of the people I know are covered in it, carry extra on them at all times & sprinkle it liberally wherever they go. 

Ok - sounds ridiculous right?  Or does it? 

Well, I don't really know about the pixie dust, but I do know that my life changed when I started practicing & teaching yoga.  Maybe I was sprinkled with pixie dust when I wasn't looking!  I am now surrounded by people who support each other, encourage each other, believe in themselves & others.  People who believe that life can be full of joy & abundance & that you can do anything you want. 

You don't have to take a teacher training to experience this (although a teacher training does takes it to a whole other level). 

Find the right studio for you & you'll find it.

How do you know it's the right studio?  Look for pixie dust in the corners:)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

"Let's buy some Thyme"




I started this blog the day after Thanksgiving...

It's Friday after class.  I just taught.  I left the studio to pick up some posters, only to get to the Print Shop & remember that he's closed today.
I left the Print Shop to head home & remembered I had to go back to the studio.  Tomorrow is our Open Studio event & I don't know how to issue gift cards in our system (sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?).  I have to call tech support from the studio because I need to have access to the gift cards & scanner during the call (usually I call from home in the early morning or late night, when they're less busy).
 
So now I'm in the studio & I'm on hold with tech support.  I have a limited window of time because I have to get home so my husband can leave for work.  I do not like being on hold.  The box in the picture has a printer in it that I ordered.  It's been waiting to be unpacked for a few days now.  If I have to be on hold, I might as well get something done, right?  I want to unpack the printer & get rid of the box, so the lobby looks neat tomorrow.  I want to tip the box over & pull the printer out - easy.  Or not...all those darn styrofoam popcorn bits in the box will make a mess!  They go everywhere, they break into little bits...it'll be more work.  So I grab a garbage bag & start pulling the styrofoam out in small handfuls.  It's painfully slow.  I feel very impatient.  I haven't even gotten that far when tech support takes my call.

I want to rush & get stuff done.  I still have one more stop before I head home.  And a bunch of loose ends to wrap up before tomorrow.  But I know rushing won't help.  Stuff will just be a mess...not just the styrofoam popcorns, but everything.  And I'll just feel more stressed.  Instead, I'll do my best to take my time.  But I wish I had more time!!!

When I started this blog, I wasn't sure of my point.  And then when I got back to it tonight, it made me think about one day, just before the Holidays, when we were in the grocery store.  I had a recipe that called for Thyme.  As we walked through the produce section I started saying to my husband "Where's the thyme/time?  Can we just buy some Thyme/time?  I really need some thyme/time."  And it became a bit of a running joke for me/us for the next week (I'm not sure how funny my husband thought it!).  When I opened the refrigerator & saw the Thyme I'd say "Oh - I really need this time!  Just a little more time!"

I held onto to the idea of not having enough time for quite a while...most of the Holiday season, I now realize, a little sadly.  And then I listened to some Abraham & Law of Attraction & realized (once again!) that if I keep talking about what I don't have (time), it's not going to help...I was stuck in an attitude of scarcity.  Talking about all I had to do & how little time I had.

Listening to Abraham helped me shift.  I looked at my affirmations & found one that I hadn't looked at in a while "My life is full of abundance.  Today I have time to do what I want - to channel my energy where I want"

The days aren't any longer.  I don't have any less to do.  But my attitude & approach is different.  And it's my practice that's helped me do this.  And today I had the time to teach, play, write & more...




Friday, January 2, 2015

Let me ask you something....







"Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?" - God (played by Morgan Freeman) from the movie Evan Almighty

I love this movie & I love this quote...and I'm not even comfortable with the whole "God" thing.  (You can substitute in "the Divine", "Universe" - whatever works better for you).

Sometimes we ask for alot - as well we should.  We are all children of the Universe & Nature & abundance is ours for the asking.

But sometimes, what we ask for doesn't arrive in quite the way we expect it.  And we wind up complaining about it.  That gift that you are expecting may not arrive wrapped in bright paper & ribbons with your name written in big letters on it.  Instead, it might be lying in a ratty old brown bag on the sidewalk.  If you're not present & you're not paying attention, you might just trip over it & keep on going. 

Yoga is a great place to practice everything you are asking for.  Be it patience, love, compassion, balance, strength, focus, abundance....the list goes on & on.

Every challenge that you encounter on your mat gives you the opportunity to practice finding, experiencing & receiving whatever you are asking for in your life.

Don't be afraid to ask - and ask for alot. Ask for abundance.  Ask for love.  Ask for joy.  But then, be ready to practice finding (and receiving) it in the most challenging moments on & off your mat.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

12 Blogs 'til Christmas?



12 Blogs 'til Christmas - #8

About a month ago I got back to writing my blog & proposed that I would write 12 blogs before Christmas rolled around. 

So...here it is Christmas Eve Day & this is only Blog #8.  Clearly, I'm not getting 12 Blogs in before tomorrow.

It was pretty obvious to me a few days ago.  I thought about it.  I thought about just posting a blog a day until I was done, just to get it over it with.  I thought about my intention.  It really was my intention to post 12 blogs before December 25th.  I thought about all of you reading these blogs.  I thought about what you might think.

So what happened? 

Well, quite simply - life happened. 

Just a whole lot of stuff going on & not enough time to write 12 blogs.

And...I decided to roll with it.

Honestly, it's another example of taking my yoga off my mat.  Yes, I'm disappointed that I didn't get all the blogs written...it was a fun idea & I've enjoyed writing them.  But here I am.  On Blog #8.  On Christmas Eve Day.  I can stay stuck on that.  Or I can move on. 

I'm going to move on.  I'm going to go with the flow.  I'm going to keep writing blogs until I get to number 12.  And instead of 12 Blogs 'til Christmas, I think I'll go with 12 Blogs of the New Year (not as catchy, but it'll do).

(Yes, I realize I'm fortunate that I don't have a boss or editor imposing deadlines on me.  But still...)

Life happens.  For all of us & in different ways.  And you have to decide what you want to do with it...