Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I never noticed that....

My studio, Sanctuary Power Yoga, is on the top floor of a 3 story building.  The other day, as I walked onto the second floor, I noticed a light out in the hallway.  I grabbed a new bulb & then stopped into the business on the 2nd floor to ask one of the women there for a stool to stand on so I could reach the light.

As we came out into the hall, she said "I never noticed these lights before".  There are 3 light fixtures on the walls in the hall on that floor & they've been there since before I opened the studio.

It happens all the time.  You drive to & from work the same way every day for years.  And then suddenly you notice a tree.  You've never seen it before, but it's always been there.  Walking to & from the bus or the subway - same thing.  A flower, a business, a lamppost...something that has always been there, but you've never seen it.

We're always so busy going somewhere.  We're on our way to work or home.  To the bank, the grocery store, the gym, the yoga studio.  And yes, those are places that you need to go to or want to go to.  But what happens on the way there?  It sounds cliche, but what happens to the journey?

It may be that you're very focused on traffic & driving or biking or walking safely.  But more likely, you're just off in your head somewhere.  Thinking about a meeting that you had earlier in the day, or what you're going to do after you get to work, or after the gym, or after you get home.  And so you spend your whole day someplace that you're not.  Not noticing your surroundings.  Not present for the journey.  Not present.

In yoga, you're asked to be very present.  To pay attention to each breath.  To pay attention to each sensation in your body as it arises & dissipates.  To feel the texture of the mat beneath your feet & hands.  To be present on the journey on which you embark each & every time you get on your mat.  In this way, you don't miss out on anything.  On your mat, or off your mat.  Because it's not just about noticing a light fixture, or a tree, or a beautiful sunset.  It's about noticing all the little details that make up every moment of your life.  And without those little details, what would your life be?

"Be happy for this moment, this moment is your life" - Omar Khayyam

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

To Om or not to Om

I have always “Om”ed at the beginning & end of each class yoga class that I teach – no matter where I have taught, this has been part of my class.  I learned to teach in studios where the Om was part of the yoga practice.  But I've also taught in studios where the owners & other teachers didn't Om.  And even when I opened my studio, very few people would join in with me.  As a result, I've “Om”ed alone alot. 
I practiced with a podcast class one day in which the teacher announced that they were going to chant Om.  She said “it's just a sound, no big deal”. 
It is a sound & I get where she's coming from when she says it's no big deal.  Some people think chanting is weird, or that it's part of being a cult - it's different & it puts them off or even frightens them.  New students sometimes snicker when they hear that first Om.  Wikipedia describes it as a mystical sound & sacred incantation...that does sound a little weird & intimidating.
To me, it's not intimidating, it's not weird & chanting it doesn't mean I'm a cult leader.  But is a big deal & it's more than “just” a sound.  Om is the sound of the creation of the Universe...literally.  Within it, it holds all others sounds (like white light holds all the colors of the rainbow).  It is a mantra, which is a chant.  It helps clears your mind & focus your energy.  And when you chant Om, especially more than once, & your thumbs rest against your chest, you can feel the vibration you are creating.  When you stand in a room of 20, 30, 80 people & everyone chants together – it's amazing. It's awe inspiring.  You can feel it.  It IS a big deal.  Om at the beginning of class marks the start of your practice.  It's almost like an audible reminder that yes, I'm here & I doing this now – this is a special time & I am going to be present for it.  When someone asks our 4 year old son about yoga, he Oms.  He doesn't care where we are, how he sounds, or who's watching.  I'm not sure he understands what he's doing, but I love it.  I love that he doesn't worry about it, he just goes for it.  To him, it's part of yoga. 

How you sound when you chant it - that's not a big deal.  You don't have to sound like Pavarotti, you don't have to be able to carry a tune (I can't!).  Let the sound take over.  Loose yourself in it & enjoy it.  Part of the practice is letting go of worrying how you look, & in the case of "Om"ing, how you sound.  Let it become part of your practice, and let it become part of your day.  When you're stuck in traffic, you can listen to the traffic or the news on the radio & submit yourself to further distraction.  Or you can Om.  Try it.  See what happens.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Habit Forming

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” - Lao Tse

I haven't blogged for a while.  I could make lots of excuses as to why, but really, there's no real reason.  Other than I fell out of the habit.

We all have habits.  Some are great, some we could do without.  I'm trying to get into the habit of flossing my teeth every day.  It only takes a minute, right?  And I'm pretty good about it, but I don't do it every single day.

For a long time, I wanted to be in the habit of practicing yoga every day.  It seemed so hard!  A couple days on, a couple off.  And then suddenly (or so it seemed) I was practicing every day.  I don't even know how it happened - I guess the habit just stuck.

Now I have other habits I could do without.  Like drinking coffee.  Well, not so much coffee as coffee drinks - creamy, sugary drinks with a little coffee.  I'd rather be in the habit of drinking green juice instead. (I had that habit every day for a couple years & then sadly I fell out of that habit).

We all have habits we're aware of & habits that we're unaware of.  Some are harmless.  Others are can hurt us & those around us.  My yoga practice has made me very aware of my habits.  The habit of practicing every day has helped me become aware that if there's a habit I'd like to be rid of, I need to create a new habit to replace it.  And like anything, like getting on my mat every day, it just takes time & practice.