Don’t set a New Year Resolution!
What!? Resolutions just set you up for failure before they begin. Why? Think of it now - What is your resolution? I’m betting it’s some form of self-betterment because if you do this then that will happen, and if that happens, won't you be so much happier? (apologies if I’m totally wrong). And then...you fall off the wagon! Admit it; how many times have you said ‘I’ll start that diet tomorrow’, or 'I am definitely going to that yoga class tomorrow’, only to reset your resolution to tomorrow again when tomorrow comes?
What if I told you that you never have to diet ever again! (I am not going to tell you not to go to Yoga classes!)
Down with Resolutions!! - forget the 'I will..' or 'I'm going to..'. that already contains a sense that there is something wrong with you right now.
Let’s make a Sankalpa! (Sounds tasty right!?)
kalpa: vow, a rule to be followed
san: refers to a connection with the highest truth
Make a Sankalpa - a vow - a promise to yourself. You have a choice. Choose a short and positive statement in the present tense. For the sake of topic, let’s say something like, ‘I am amazing!' with the premise that 'I am going to keep my amazing body healthy by eating healthy, by making wise choices, and by loving myself. I am the only person that can look after me, and I vow to do this!’
Once you realize you are amazing, once you honor each breath you take, and each bite you take, and once you realize ‘you’ are in control of every action and every re-action to any given action, you can take control of your self, realize love for yourself, and love for each moment.
You have a choice! Let’s make this year amazing!
There are many people in the world who still view the word 'yoga' as something completely 'out there'... Tree huggers, incense, die-hard vegans, impossible feats of flexibility and basically not very appealing to your average Joe. Well here's the thing... We are not all like that. We are normal everyday people just trying to get by in this crazy world who happen to have found something to make everything better.
You see 'yoga' is not about all those things. It's about a way of living that is real and true and present. It's about breathing and being friendly and not taking things for granted. It's about being honest. If you can stand or sit and look at the people around you, everything around you, with equanimity then you are practicing yoga. Because it is the art of understanding the mind and the modifications of the mind that are the real practice. One of those three modifications is the 'ego' - a three letter word that rules our world - that takes us constantly from 'like it' to 'want it' to 'gotta have it'. You know the one. The other two are the intellect; our discerning quality of mind, and the 'monkey mind' - the part that jumps around from one thing to another constantly and is never satisfied. All these three things work together and give us the energy for action.
So with some understanding of the mind our practice is to gain some mastery through focus. And that can be anything - it doesn't have to be the physical practice of yoga, which in fact is quite a small part of the practice, it is supposed to be the mindfulness and consciousness that you bring to 'any' action you perform. You see, yoga is not so hard to understand or 'do' but, through practice of certain 'do's' and 'dont's', which is NOT easy, we just try to be kind and truthful and 'real'.
If you like coffee and hamburgers and wine can you practice yoga? Of course you can! If you can't touch your toes can you practice yoga? Of course you can! Fact is the more mindful you are of 'you' you will begin to discern what is doing you good and what isn't. It's a natural process of looking after 'you' and being the best you can be 'now'. That's all. Just show up with the intention if being present and being the best that you can be and you will be practicing yoga!
Why you should you get your asana outta bed and practice yoga early...
Tuesday's and Thursday's 6:00am, Tuesday's and Friday's 7:00am, Saturday's 8:00am, Wednesday's 8:30am Please check schedule for updates/changes. Register or just drop-in
"I went into teacher training looking to teach and give back to the community all that yoga had given me. But I found that the real gift was how much it taught me about myself and the person I wanted to be. I'll be forever grateful for the experience." Evelyn Mizell
My journey to find yoga was and is a lengthy one. I wish I could say that I found it, and loved it from the start, but that would be a lie. As a college student, I chose it as a physical education credit. But all we seemed to do in class was lie on the floor, roll around,and then journal about it. If the time I spent in a gym or studio setting wasn't cardio intensive, I didn't want any part of it. Marriage, children, and an aging body seemed to change all of that. When I hit my thirties, my body stopped recovering from runs as well. I queried my runner friends as to what to do. They all said, "Why don't you try yoga?" At the same time, our military moves became more and more frequent and my husband's job increasingly dangerous and stressful. I began to feel nervous and panicky in social situations, even with the people I loved most. It was such an effort to be this high strung version of myself. This time I called my mother to discuss it, "Why don't you try yoga," she asked. Ok. Ok. Message received. I signed up for classes and started going almost immediately. But this time, it was a different style of yoga. There were poses that were new to me, poses that integrated balance and flexibility and after we were all physically spent, we got to rest, and the anxiety that seemed to have a pretty fair hold on me began to let go its grip. I wanted this; I craved it. There were not enough classes at the leisure center I was attending, so I found small group lessons and signed up for those. And when we moved from that duty station, I found another studio to call home. The study of the spiritual side of yoga and the moral codes (yamas and niyamas) came later, but they came. I used to despair and feel a bit jealous that I did not find yoga earlier in life. But I now know that it would have been wasted on the teen and twenty-something athlete who used it solely for vanity and athletic prowess. No, yoga came at just the time I needed it.
"Waking life is confusing. What appears to be an enemy can turn out to be an ally. By articulating and clarifying our values, by digging deep and thoughtfully questioning our core beliefs, a perceived enemy can turn out to be a well wisher and a friend."
The Story of the Crane, as recounted in the Mahabharata, paraphrased by Ginny Loving!
In an effort to avoid a long and bloody civil war, the Pandava brothers and their wife Draupadi attempted to placate their warring cousins the Kauravas by going into exile in the wilderness for thirteen years. Towards the end of their thirteen years of exile circumstances brought the group to a point where they found themselves tired, frustrated, hungry, parched and in great need of water for their wandering troupe. Nakula, one of the brothers shimmied up the highest tree he could find, and reported that from up there he could hear the calls of water cranes, so there must be water nearby! The leader of the Pandavas, Yudhisthira the eldest brother decided to send out Nakula to find water and relief for the group. Nakula did not return. One-by-one Yudhisthira sent out the rest of his brothers, and just like in a scary movie. . . not one brother returned!
Finally, with no brothers left Yudhishtira set off himself to see what was going on. He searched until he came to the shores of a beautiful, crystalline lake, surrounded by trees, flowers, wildlife, and general loveliness. Being so thirsty, he rushed to the beautiful bank and to his horror, the found all of his brothers lying there, all dead. At the dreadful sight before him, he lamented, he grieved, and as he sat beside his brothers to mourn. . .he heard a voice.
" I am the cause of your brothers demise. . .I warned them, but they in their arrogance would not listen. So, now they are dead. This pool belongs to me, and unless you are given my permission, the same fate awaits you."
The voice belonged to a crane. The brothers had been too preoccupied with their own situations to listen to the bird's warning. Yudhisthira quelled his anger and grief, wiped his eyes and asked what it was that he must do to gain the permission necessary to make the water safe to drink. Not only was he the oldest brother, but the coolest, calmest, and most dharma driven of them all. The crane replied that his questions must be answered! The number of questions varies in most accounts of this story with 108 being the number in some traditions, but all accounts agree that the questions were deep, with subtle layers and insightful significance. The questions covered all sorts of topics. Some were philosophical, some were riddles (think Odepius Rex and the Sphynx) and some were teaching points. The questions and their answers are thought to lay the basis for the Srimabhagavadgita and have helped guide the lives of Hindus for thousands of years. Examples include explorations of the topics of judgement, mercy, and simplicity.
After a very long discourse, some say hours, some say days...the Crane announced he was so happy with their discussions, so satisfied with Yudisthira's answers that not only would he give the permission needed to make the water safe, but additionally he would bring one brother back to life. Which brother would be up to Yudisthira! Yudisthira thought long and hard. Finally, he announced that Nakula his 1/2 brother was his choice to be returned. " A half brother rather than a full brother?" queried the crane "Why?" He was puzzled...
"So that neither one of my mothers is left with out a child" was Yudisthira's response. The Crane was so pleased with this response that he brought all the brothers back to life! And with his blessings and aid, the brothers and their company replenished themselves, and continued on with their many adventures. . .but that's another blog!
So, that's the story and now for the pose! BAKASANA
Behind every yoga posture (asana), a story can be found! Behind the iconic Warrior sequence, there is a colorful story of passions. This particular story is a love story, a tragedy, a drama and a cautionary tale with elements of attachment, shame, violence, sadness, compassion and renunciation.
Are you ready for this tale!? Read On. . .
Once upon a long time ago, lived a great king - Daksha, a nobly born son of Brahma. Daksha was very rich and powerful, blessed with 100 beautiful daughters, and he served as the high priest to the ASURAS (Gods). Out of his 100 beautiful daughters, his favorite was the youngest- Sati, who happened to be an incarnation of Parvati. As one would suppose, an incarnation of Parvati would be drawn to Shiva, and so it was Sati was helplessly in love with Shiva, and was determined to marry him. Daksha disliked Shiva intensely, and was determined that this unorthodox yogi, god of death, destruction and transformation, who hung around graveyards smoking bhang, and keeping company with goblins, ghouls and other unmentionables, wearing tattered skins and nappy dreadlocks - would never wed his daughter. Love won out however, and Lord Shiva and Sati wed and lived happily in the pleasure city Shiva created for them on Mt. Kailash.
Shortly after Sati had left home to her new domicile, Daksha, being the high priest to the gods organized a HUGE yagna or ritual sacrifice. Ritual celebrations in themselves are not a bad thing, but this one was for the wrong reasons. Rather than devotion , the purpose of this yagna was to show off his wealth, his social standings and to intentionally avoid Shiva and Sati. Daksha invited anyone who was anyone back in Long Ago BC: all the Gods and demi gods, nymphs, air spirits, celestial beings, nature elementals, wealthy kings, shamans, priests, etc. Think Kardashian wedding of long ago B.C. Everyone that is except for Shiva and Sati. Shiva could have cared less. Life up on Mt. Kailash was sweet and he told Sati to leave well enough alone. Sati was heartbroken at not being invited, and insisted upon crashing this party. So, despite Shiva's admonitions Sati ignored social etiquette and her husband's wishes and went without Shiva to the ceremony. Upon seeing her at the yagna, rather than embrace her, Daksha belittled, embarrassed and ridiculed her in front of the guests. All the guests present laughed. Humiliated, Sati was unable to bear further insult, decided that she wanted nothing more to do with her father, including the body he had given her. She fell into a mystic trance and began to increase her inner fire through yogic exercises until she burst into flames and perished.
When news of Sati's death reached Shiva, he was shocked, sadden- and enraged. The Lord of Destruction fell into blackness. He tore his clothes, ripped out his hair and shrieked in fury. He picked up the dreads he had torn out, and from these he fashioned the fiercest warrior to carry out his revenge, Vira (hero) Bhadra (friend) - and gave him the task of retribution for his lost Sati. He sent him to the yagna to kill Daksha and the guests who had humiliated his love.
Shiva arrives at Daksha's palace to see the damage that Virabhadra has ravaged. His anger is gone, but now he is full of profound sorrow for himself, for Sati, for Daksha. Sorrow turns to compassion as he sees the bloody aftermath of his rage. He finds Daksha's headless body and he brings him back to life, giving him a goats head in place of the one lost. Daksha, overwhelmed by this generous action, bows in awe and humility to Shiva Shankar (Benevolent one). All follow his suite and honor Shiva. Sati, however is still dead. Shiva gathers up the body of his bride, and wanders the earth crazed w/ grief knowing that somewhere somehow, they will be together again.
Moral of the story
The higher self (Shiva) slays the prideful ego (Daksha) for the sake of the heart (Sati). Through infinite compassion, the higher self forgives the ego. The essential nature of the heart is the power of love, which will be brought back to life again in another form. . .but that is another story.
“To the warriors of light, there is no such thing as impossible love.
They don’t allow themselves to be intimidated by silence, or by rejection.
They know that behind the icy mask people wear there is a heart of fire.
That is why the warriors risk more than others.
They tirelessly seek love, even if this means hearing, many times over, the word ‘no’,
returning home defeated, feeling rejected in body and soul.
Warriors don’t allow themselves to be discouraged.
Without love, living has no meaning.”
I fell in LOVE with YOGA the first time I went parachuting. Yep! My mother added my name a a list of volunteers who were prepared to jump out of an airplane to raise money for charity. It was one of those things she knew I wanted to do, but I remember thinking ‘but do I want to do it ‘now’? A group of us went. We were working at the RAC Club in Epsom, England, and we headed out for the weekend to train and to jump. Let’s fast-forward to the jump itself. It was my first experience of Yoga. What?!
So, the definition of Yoga is "a union of space and time and body and soul that enable you to be in the present moment." Yoga is an experience of the present moment. See?! I definitely ‘did’ Yoga that day. From suiting up to preparing to jump out of the Cessna, to being told ‘now!’ to jumping out of the airplane, I was totally ‘doing’ Yoga – I was totally present and totally aware of where I was and what I was doing. And the jump itself.. well that was the epitome of yoga. And I fell in love. Without knowing anything about Yoga, I found myself in the present moment. Away from doing to just ‘being’.
Let’s use a few adverbs here; BRILLIANT, AWESOME, AMAZING, FABULOUS, EARTH SHATTERING, INCREDIBLE. . .I could go on . . . ! From the moment I jumped out of the airplane, the world became ‘my’ world and everything transpired in slow motion. Floating in the air, falling through the sky, everything was still and quiet and real and ‘now’, and yet everything around me was so small and seemingly insignificant. I was superbly happy. I was experiencing every single second of some few minutes before reality set in and I had to start ‘doing’ and get ready to land.
I never realized I was practicing yoga until I actually practiced it for the first time. Didn’t enjoy the class at all, but right there at the end of the class, in Savasana, I had the very same experience that I’d had as I was descending through the air; being present as a single entity in the world whilst simultaneously being a part of the whole world and being superbly happy.
The next day, despite being 8 months pregnant, I signed up for yoga teacher training. I wanted that same experience, and I have worked towards that same experience every day since. I practice yoga every day. I try to be as present as I was on that day floating to earth. Some days I am. Some days I am not. I work to continue to experience ‘being’ in the moment.
I have been parachuting and skydiving 4 more times since my first jump and have been teaching and practicing yoga every day. Thanks mum!