Change Re-Form Re-Pattern…Yoga For Life

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
Look At Your Patterns

Yoga does different things for different people. It can turn lethargy into action. It can turn a frazzled overworked person into a tranquil, peaceful being. Yoga brings us into balance. Yoga helps us to re-pattern negative and unhealthy behaviors. Since we are bodies of organic materials and over 60% water, we are in a constant state of flux from birth ’til death. Hence, we are forever re-patterning the ways in which we approach life in all realms- physical, mental, and spiritual.

In my 20’s I lost 80 lbs. It happened after I started yoga. In natural succession I began to eat more consciously and then I started jogging regularly (which was a dreadful, awful, painful feat in my pre-weight loss years). All of a sudden, running was exhilarating and a mighty calorie burner too. Jackpot! Right? The combination of new healthy behaviors (combined with long-term sticking with them) resulted in the significant weight loss and the ‘keeping it off’ factor that is even harder to maintain.

A few years went by and the jogging started to take a toll on my body…achy joints, sore back, tight muscles. As well, the aggressive yoga practices that made me sweat and groan and push and push beyond my limits, and then pass out in savasana, had depleted me and injured me. After a defiant few years of not accepting that I needed to shift my behaviors (again, really?? So not fair!!…I whined and protested).

I knew I had to alter my patterns to accommodate for my changing and now imbalanced state. Fatigued and constantly achey does not a nice tag teacher make. These were hard lessons. Part of my resistance to ‘change’ was purely fear based as I was absolutely not going back to being ‘the fat girl’- THAT was painful enough. But I also didn’t know any other way to keep my weight and compulsive over-eating tendencies at bay. ‘Cardio and hard-core yoga everyday or else!’ worked so well for me for so long. But waking up nearly crippled from it one sad night in 2007 I knew the gig was up. I had to make changes.

In this quandary, I am not alone. All of the time I see people who have made great life changes and had success in becoming more healthy and balanced physically, mentally, and spiritually. But if we do not continue to keep a close eye on the delicate state of balance within and outside of ourselves, and adjust our behaviors and practices accordingly we will become imbalanced again.

I have mellowed out. I still practice yoga everyday, but I listen deeply to my body and abide (most of the time) by the inner teacher. My home practice is mostly pelvic-abdominal strengtheners, inversions, backbends, and any ‘special’ poses I want to explore working on to teach in classes. I sit for meditation six days a week. I LOVE going to a few classes a week at Yoga Birds when it fits into my schedule. I do not consider teaching times as my practice. Practice is a receiving, teaching is a giving. I like to keep those in equal balance. 12 hours of teaching = 12 hours of practice. I owe that to my students. I still jog once in a blue moon. I take long walks with the dogs in Fairhope (that’s my FAVE). I do cardio twice a week on an elliptical or bike at the gym. Some days I have to force myself to kick up my heartbeat. Some days I have to make myself do restorative poses to bring my energy down. It seems that what I am most resistant to on a certain day is the missing link that will bring me more into balance. Most days I sit at a desk for many hours. Movement is vital for me to have any energy to work with.

Because of my beloved longtime practice of yoga and turning inward, I take pauses regularly throughout the day for self-inquiry. I often ask myself ‘Is this bringing me into balance?’ and then I proceed with a little more clarity. These are the gifts yoga. Everyday is different. Everyday our bodies are different. Our behaviors and actions, must honor the constant changing state of nature, otherwise we hurt ourselves.

I look forward to inevitable change and opportunities to really put this practice to use. I am so happy and grateful to be on this path with all of you yogis and friends.

Enjoy this Time. Enjoy this Life. Enjoy this Breath. Enjoy Yoga. Enjoy yourSelf Everyday.

Peace Love and Yoga Y’all.

 

YOGA…Only If You Want To Know Your Self

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

BKS Iyengar is quoted as saying “the yoga pose begins when you want to come out.” If it were always easy peasy, yoga would not be the enriching, enlightening, life saving experience that it is. Yoga is essentially a study of the Self. I recently heard a teacher say that yoga practice is a selfish endeavor. I don’t know if I agree with that. I believe that yoga as a practice of heightened awareness of Self is vital for continual development and growth as humans in constantly evolving bodies in a perpetually changing world. If we don’t practice continually connecting with the deeper parts of our psyche and consciousness, then life gets or stays hard and feels defeating, or we end up looking around one day asking ourselves, “how did I end up with this life?” or stating sadly, “this is not the life I envisioned for myself.”

The asana we practice on the mats simulates challenges that we encounter in the ‘real’ world. The real yoga kicks in during the important moments, those crossroads moments that change the course of life and path for better or worse. Those situations that tap the deepest fears and test courage and usually make you want to turn and run as as fast as possible to somewhere…anywhere else and just bail. You know…the intense, but necessary conversations with your loved one where you MUST speak your heart’s truth after holding back for far too long. Or when you MUST finally hold your grown child accountable for an irresponsible choice. Or when you MUST finally say no to a friend or relative.

In these moments the gifts of yoga practice (clarity, wisdom, balance, etc) enable proceeding gracefully. Human nature tends to lead to avoidance, or to ‘come out’ of the position, but when the yoga is at work, the fruits of our practice support the uncomfortable yet necessary actions vital to living from Truth and having the meaningful and good life that is the Divine right. This is not selfish. It is survival.

This week at YB, we begin a study series of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The text approaches the way of yoga not as a simple, linear path, rather, the Sutras lay out yoga as a method involving a radical change in the process of knowing ourSelves and experiencing the world. It gives techniques with which to analyze thought processes and to meet and lay bare our true human identity. Study of the Sutras is a map and a means of deepening self-understanding which makes us better citizens of humanity…better spouses, sisters, brothers, children, parents, friends.

In her translation of the Sutras, Nischala Joy Devi says “Seek not to learn the Sutras, instead seek to learn who is the one who studies the scripture”.

I am truly excited to embark on this conversation on the Sutras and contemplation of my Self in the community context of Advanced Studies Series. Our greater Lower Alabama yoga community is growing — not just in numbers, but in maturity and knowledge of the seminal, Classical texts of yoga. We becOMe more knowledgeable yogis…we becOMe our best Selves… This is the dream. We are, as a cOMmunity bringing the yoga hOMe. PEACE