I am constantly amazed at how the Universe and the world around me keep me on my toes. As I write this I am on a layover in Dallas, Texas, and just a few hours prior, I was at Madison Airport running back to my car at 5:38am (after a run into the airport because I realized how far the economy parking lot is, and heck I have legs to I can walk, but I don’t want to be late). In just a few minutes the Universe taught me to be even more conscious and do what my Inner Self, that whisper from God telling you to do something and when we don’t listen we may have to do something more complicated than what the initial request was. So that run back to my car I was talking about was because after check in (and my flight being moved from 6am to 6:30am) I went to the bathroom, and after, I had the thought to text my husband to tell him I’m at the airport, but I thought that I’d wait until later because I didn’t feel like taking my phone out of my bag. Well after security check I was searching for my phone and couldn’t find it…it was in my car. And at 5:38am I found myself, with my roller suitcase and handbag running in 8 degrees to get my phone, hoping I won’t miss my flight at 6:30pm.
Lesson here, do what your Inner Self says, and when you don’t there is a silver lining, I wasn’t mad that I had to run back to the car (after running in the first time to get my flight). Because I instantly thought of the fact that before I even made the choice to not look at my phone, God and the Universe already switched my flight to accommodate my choice five minutes later.
I have for many years now believed that being comfortable in life means that you are not growing, and that there are two different kinds of easy: one, easy because you are avoiding life’s challenges so what you come in contact with is never pushing you to be more than you currently are; and two, easy because you understand that you need to be challenged and that all the “problems” you are facing currently are because life is not giving up on you, the Universe and God want very much for you to succeed and that what is currently taking you down, is actually building you back up. The only real challenge is if you choose to listen or not.
Over the years I have had many opportunities to challenge my personal integrity, my belief system and how I act on it, my lifestyle, my truths, among many other personal convictions; and within all of those opportunities I have come face to face several times with the meshing and tangling with others integrity, belief system, lifestyle and personal convictions and what I have come to notice, and turn my awareness towards is my actions and reactions to the interactions with life in general.
And what I have come to find is that all these encounters force me to put life into actual action. Now as you read this you are probably wondering ‘life into actual action’, isn’t life actual action? But hear me out; life is only living when you chose to be an active part of it, faith is only faith when you choose to attest to it and walk in its footsteps. Yoga is only yoga when you take it off the mat and into every day life. Now readings this ask yourself a few simple questions: one, do I agree, two, if I don’t agree, why, am I not living up to my potential, three, am I consciously choosing to only do what is comfortable and the norm, only what others say is right or correct living.?
If everything is a mirror for right living, for ourselves to get a real glimpse as to what is really going on inside of us, then this is the question I ask myself is: “what is my mirror showing me today?” I don’t always like the mirror because it tells me that what I am doing and what I know I should be doing and am capable of, are different. When we accept the mirror in all aspects of life we allow another opportunity in- to grow and become the person the Universe and God intended us to be.
There is no drug, surgery or amount of money that can replace what the mirror can do for us. We live in an age of politically correct action; we are trying to save everyone from harm’s way, from hurt, from consequences to help them from seeing the mirror that is in front of them. I often times wonder if removing the mirror from people’s lives is really the right decision. As a yoga teacher, I tread both heavy and lightly on these grounds because we are all at a different place in life and within our own personal convictions.
I have a bit of abhorrence when my awareness kicks in and each night when my husband wants ice cream I want to pretend that I should have some too and it won’t affect me later. I dislike greatly that my mirror kicks in and shows me that I would be a lot less stressed, less tired, and more ready for the day if I just go to bed earlier. The list goes on, in the past I came to realize that my food choices were base on what I felt I should be doing rather than what I need for me, my body image was based solely on what I thought others thought of me. My self-worth was entangled in the worth of those around me. And what I believe in and acted on in faith was knotted in with was drilled into my head without reason why, and was in-fact faith without action. Sure I went to church and prayed and did my fair share of volunteering (which I love and would probably be a missionary if I wasn’t a yoga teacher) among other things.
But looking back in that part of my life what I needed was to be shown that all the things I needed were inside of me. That by accepting the Self is actually accepting the Universal Consciousness (however that manifests for you). And the self-hate I had towards myself and the lies, self-mutilation and anger I had was not an action in Universal Consciousness or of God, and although I did a pretty good job of looking the part and doing all the right things and even the work I was doing was supposed to “save me” the only thing that really saved me was when I realized that I had purpose, I was in-fact a part of that Universal Consciousness and that God was actually inside of me rather than some big scary thing in the sky that was going to punish me for wrong doing. My God is my mirror, showing me everything I need to know about myself, life and living, doing work and living honestly to the best of my ability.
My yoga practice (which has very much floated over into how I live) will not be all you expect: my family eats meat, I like an occasional cup of coffee, I am guilty of a late night snack, I own a T.V., you might be amazed at the fact that I don’t’ agree with all environmental actions taken that is currently taken to make the environment a safer place; which I think may actually be causing more toxic harm; and sometimes I even shop at Wal-mart (remember those people that work there chose to work there and need jobs, which this establishment has provided).
No one is perfect and if you are projecting yourself to be, I’m impressed and need to know your secret. But more important is that yoga is teaching me that I should be pure in all that I do, that I should be honest, compassionate and live to be happy, and share happiness with others. That it’s not talking the talk, but walking the walk.
I am thankful that my yoga, the yoga I know and live and teach and walk by is my mirror, both on the mat and off the mat, and when I approach that ready to listen, ready to learn and ready to do the work, I am amazed because I never know what is going to happen. The old me would have either ran or got defensive, but in understanding what the real point of a yoga practice is I thank God for my mirror to be able to see things as they actually are and know that what and how things come into play in my life are an opportunity for me to learn, grow and truly live.
In respect, Namaste.
As teachers, yoga teachers at that, it is very easy to fall into a rut where we begin to teach the same thing over and over. And it may not be the same order but just the same "safe" postures.
When I say safe I mean what we feel comfortable with, nothing that makes us have to pay more attention than we already are, nothing that we might have to practice a bit or even ask students questions about.
As a teacher I have over the past decade been very conscious of this in my own teaching. I was talking with a teacher (my mom) the other day and guiding her about some teaching strategies with integrating new material and information into the classes without freaking out students and without freaking our herself. And I shared a story about when I first started teaching how I wouldn't teach Pigeon in class because I was afraid of how to get students into it and the fact that it might be really hard or uncomfortable for them to be in. And one day I just decided that I was a moron and taught it and the feedback was stellar, they of course loved and hated it all at the same time. But that experience helped me realize that I was doing no one a favor by keeping something from them that they needed merely because I was afraid, uncomfortable and worried way more than my students were. I was actually keeping them from growing and keeping them from something that we both needed. And the hips are storage depots for past tensions and tightness (physical and emotional) so at that time in my life I definitely see a relationship between my avoiding that pose and my needed to also teach it for me, not just solely my students.
So teachers pay attention to what you are avoiding, to what you dislike, to your hang-ups, to your criticisms. As part of my practice I work very diligently to keep that in check. I notice that I am in a box so to speak and I then take a few breaths and some time to see where that is coming from. Am I seeing a need and expressing to that need or am I avoiding and then in the end avoiding? This is something for you the teacher to discover.
So step back for a moment today or this week and notice the direction of your teaching, what you bring to the mat, I notice in my own teaching that if I work to be even more present than I already am what is good to many is stellar to me. So even when you are at the top of your game, climb back down to get a better look and then climb back up again.
I do this exercise with my teacher trainers: write down your 3-5 favorite postures that you love.......
Now write down the 3-5 least favorite postures in your practice/teaching.....
O.K. now for the next week you are not allowed to teach your favorite postures and you need to incorporate one or all of the least favorite postures into your teachings this week. Now some of you may say, "but I need Down Dog, or Plank, or whatever". And I say, no you don't, think outside the box, get creative, step from your rigid left brain to your creative right brain and see what happens. Notice the comments, facial expressions and reactions of those in class.
Let me know how it goes.
Yin Yoga, a less popular style of yoga in the west is an approach that some may have never even heard of. One that in my experience, takes many a few times to really warm up to and even understand. Initially called “Daoist” yoga this style of yoga targets the deep connective tissues of the body (vs. the superficial tissues) and the fascia that covers the body; this Daoist yoga is to help regulate the flow of energy in the body. Paul Grilley, who brought this concept to the forefront, accredits three main teachers for this concept, one of which is Paulie Zink, who taught him Daoist Yoga. Many teach Yin Yoga today, one of which is Sarah Powers, a student of Paul’s; although she teaches very different than Paul, while taking a Yin Yoga training from him in Chicago, he noted her credit for aligning the name “Yin Yoga” with this style.
Yin Yoga postures are more passive postures, mainly on the floor and the majority of postures equal only about three dozen or so, much less than the more popular yang like practices. Yin Yoga is unique in that you are asked to relax in the posture, soften the muscle and move closer to the bone. While yang-like yoga practices are more superficial, Yin offers a much deeper access to the body. It is not uncommon to see postures held for three to five minutes, even 20 minutes at a time. The time spent in these postures is much like time spent in meditation, and I often talk students through the postures as if they were trying to meditate. While in a Yin class you might notice similar postures to a yang class except they are called something else, on a basic level this is to help the students mind shift form yang to yin, active to passive.This concept of Yin yoga has been around for thousands of years and some of the older text, such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika notes only sixteen postures in its text, which is far less than the millions of postures practiced in today’s yoga. In addition, having read much of these text and also cliff notes from various teachers it would appear that these “postures” were more yin like to help promote meditation and long periods of pranayama and sitting. Now I am not claiming to be an ancient text yoga guru, but this is just an observation I have made.
So what exactly is Yin yoga?To Continue Viewing This Article by Hope Zvara visit MindBodyGreen Click
In the midst of frustration what else are we to do but lash out. Why would we rather have to figure out coping strategies to lessen the blow or better yet not be able to take it out on someone else? And like a food addiction we can so easily become addicted to anger, out bursts and worse off abuse. We say it’s not going to happen again, that it was just this once-because we were stressed out, annoyed or out of our element, but really we fear change. We fear that we will be different and that we will possibly have to work at it alter our lifestyle somehow and in some way. Wouldn’t it simply be easier to just give me a pill or zap me a few times and make it all better?
Isn’t that is so much our society-quick fix without the effort. So I ask you now to STOP! Stop with the lies, the anger, the violence towards yourself and all those around you. If you are to the point where you are hurting others in any way, I can guarantee you that you have been hurting yourself for years. So the change will have to be gradual and will put you in positions that will challenge you to go back to your ways or to challenge them and turn away. It comes down to your choice. We complain that we have no choices in life yet the ones we have control over, we’d rather not have. So in the midst of frustration here’s the thing, you can choose to change, alter your life, ruffle your feather in the hopes of a new look at the horizon. Or you can keep down the same path you have continually gone down over and over and over again with zero success, but it’s comfortable and easy and you basically don’t have to try.
Life is full of bumps and bruises, tears and laughs, questions and very few answers but this does not have to stop you from living, from the opportunity of change, from the life you keep saying you want and wonder why you never have. I know more people that I can count on all my hands and feet that say one thing and NEVER FOLLLOW THROUGH-heck I use to be one of them. But I’ve learned to say no, to admit when I am wrong (and boy is it hard), to speak up and go after what I know I am capable at in life. Why watch everyone else live the life you want because you simply don’t want to put the work in. Really that is what it comes down to. Give me all the excuses you want, I’ve heard them all because I’ve said them all and simply put-it’s all a load of crap. Am I perfect no, but, do I try my damdest and hardest to follow my heart, my gut my passion and you bet your bottom dollar I see my work paying off. And am I afraid to fall; no because I have told myself enough now that falling is part of the game, no shame, just necessary and a requirement in life.
So that anger, that frustration, it’s not your computer (would be an easy fix though), it’s not your Mom or Dad, your boss, your scale, your partner, your date book….it’s you. You have to step up and step out and welcome fear that makes you start living the life you have been dying to live. That fear, that worry that doubt is just a wake up that you need to keep moving, keep praying, keep believing and keep WORKING your ass off until you see yourself on the other end. There is no other way. I’ve been to the point in my own life that I chanced death all to many times, held death in my arms and still came out above it. So step up, step out and be somebody—YOURSELF!