The hard lessons you’re about to learn… (Part 1)

When did having a yoga class in a boutique or tea house or any other retail space become a good way to market a business? What does it say about that business? Is it cool? Hip? Chic? Interesting? Relevant? What does it say about us? What is this need to identify with anything that uses yoga as a catalyst for more sales? Has yoga become a label to identify ourselves with those other cool, relevant people? Has it become exclusive in the way that if you don’t do yoga then we don’t want you around? Has “YOGA” become so vapid in the eyes of those who do it that it’s only use is to help promote, sell, or trend? Has yoga become just another item on the list of must-haves at the party of the year?

The attachment to the physical aspect of yoga (asana) without the graciousness of the spiritual aspect has led those who choose to believe it, marginalize yoga to the place of workout, the fountain of youth, and just another thing to help you relax at the spa. All fine benefits of yoga, yes, but not the raison-d’etre. Bringing yoga to our ego-ic level and understanding, lessens its impact on our organism, our being, our soul. Projecting onto yoga all the same stuff of ego-identity that drive some to have face lifts, be the first to do, to have something, to brag, undermines yoga’s essential and primary benefit: union with the Beloved, the Divine Heart, God, the energy of the cosmos. However you like to “name” it, it is all that and more. (As Ramana Maharshi says, to even name it, you have lost your connection to it.) All the stuff that yoga asks you to shed (boosting, grasping, attaching, hating) is actually amplified by the need to make it a part of who you think you are…all the adjectives: good, nice, chill, spiritual, cool, hip, relevant, interesting.

What if you not all that – or rather, what if you felt you weren’t that? How hard is it to maintain a facade, or to try to prove that you are all that? How hard is it to be someone you actually think you’re not? With the words, “I-do-yoga” come many reactions. There’s a definite stigma: bad or good. Some of us let other’s reactions dictate what we do. It used to be that I never talked openly about my practice or my teaching in front of my family because of all the jokes about it. Whatever the reaction is, do you try to prove something – like, no we’re not a bunch of hippies…? Or, no I can express an opinion strongly and still be a yogini(yogi)? Or, yes I do like to have fun on my days off…?

All this ‘trying to be’ – a good, nice, chill “spiritual” student or teacher undermines the work that is Yoga. Being REAL is harder than it looks. It’s even harder when Yoga no longer looks, tastes, smells like it’s former self, but is reduced to being of service to the ego-ic whims of clothing store owners and media hounds.

Yoga is NOT any of it.

Haha – but that publicly traded yoga wear corp (I even dislike mentioning the name because I don’t want to market them) would have you thinking otherwise. This company along with a few others (a magazine, and a yoga studio brand) have helped shape the way in which yoga is seen, how we interact with it. Yoga, for a lot of people, has become just another commodity to exploit like anything that trends in social media: flavor of the moment. Look what they’ve started. And by a guy (the owner) who says he doesn’t  do yoga. What a great little marketer. He’s helped shape a generation of displayers: Look at what I can do; at what I’ve got; at who I know…or I’ve seen (rather).

Is this really the way you want to experience yoga?

Yoga asks you to be the antithesis of a good little marketer. To do without thought of reward. To give without thought of recompense. The lesson is to learn to shake this illusion (maya) of the material world and what you need from it…happiness, love, connection, comfort, prestige. It’s all there, you’ve already got it all. But if yoga is used and not practiced then it can never bring you into the light of day and help shed the doubt that looms over us like a darkening cloud.

The emptiness is always there even if the material world seems to give you everything…you have become a slave to that idea…and this idea will keep your true self hidden until it is shattered by the reality of who you truly are in the moment of your greatest need. Ask anyone who is encountering their own mortality!

It’s a hard lesson to learn. But I will gladly teach anyone willing to go there! Are you? Willing I mean…

 

Constant practice alone is the secret of success.

Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Don’t look toward the goal…

Present-centeredness…

Present-centeredness...

So resolve yourselves. It’s not just by sitting with your eyes closed that you develop wisdom. Eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind are constantly with us, so be constantly alert. Study constantly. Seeing trees or animals can all be occasions for study. Bring it all inwards. See clearly within your own heart. If some sensation makes impact on the heart, witness it clearly for yourself, don’t simply disregard it.

Ajahn Chah

Photo by Daniel Nahabedian

(from tumblr blog: ombuddha)

(my tumblr blog: 1barfootgirl)

Incredible Edible…

Incredible Edible….

Edible landscapes – people come around and it starts a conversation which starts a revolution.

Trungpa Rinpoche gave a definition of taking refuge that was pinned up on our bulletin board the other day. It begins with an absolute statement: “Since all things are naked, clear from obscurations, there is nothing to attain or realize.” But then Rinpoche goes further and makes it very practical. “The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete acceptance and openness to all situations and emotions and all people. A complete acceptance and openness to all situations and emotions and to all people, experiencing everything totally without reservations or blockages, so that one never withdraws or centralizes into oneself.” That is why we practice.

Pema Chödrön – Awakening Loving~Kindness

Trungpa Rinpoche gave a d…

Christine U in Parsvottanasana

 Christine U in Parsvottanasana

I ground my front big toe mound down into the ground and draw the spiral energy of life force up from the earth into my outer front thigh.

I draw the outer right thigh to connect the two hemispheres of my hips together into centre behind me.

I ground my back outer foot into the mat without lifting its inner line but creating an arch and let that energy spiral up into the outer back hip, meeting the inner thighs pressing up into the outer. This energetic action stabilizes the back hip which is met by the front hip drawing in.

I am stable and strong now.

I draw in the front lower belly toward the spine, I fold naturally and easily till my chin rests on my shin. My hands rest lightly on my back and my elbows lift slightly.

I relax into Parsvottanasana with breath and mindfulness.

Equanimity and Non-Dualism…

Equanimity is in essence a “…wholeness in a merciful awareness that clings to nothing and condemns nothing, that is simply a presence in which nothing obstructs the natural flow of loving kindness.” (quote from the book, Embracing the Beloved by Ondrea and Stephen Levine) To cling to nothing and condemn nothing that is in essence the enactment of being present to the awareness of a non-dualistic universe.

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Laghu Vajrasana – Deep back bends have always alluded my body.
Before I even get here, I open my back by laying on a block at the highest height and slowly open my upper back. (I will do a short video to show you what I do soon).
Slowly as I work, I will work out the tight quad muscles and upper back. I will eventually get my hands on my knees and my head closer to my feet.
All in good time…Right now I just breathe! 🙂

 Laghu Vajrasa…

FROM THE BOOK – ZEN IN THE ART OF ARCHERY

Master: The right art is purposeless, aimless! The more obstinately you try to learn how to shoot the arrow for the sake of hitting the goal, the less you will succeed in the one and the further the other will recede. What stands in your way is that you have a much too willful will. You think that what you do not do yourself does not happen.

We master archers say: one shot – one life! What this means, your cannot understand … if the shot is loosed with a jerk there is a danger of the thread snapping. For purposeful and violent people the rift becomes final, and they are left in the awful centre between heaven and earth.

Student: What must I do then?

Master: You must learn to wait properly.
Student: And how does one learn that?
Master: By letting go of yourself, leaving yourself and everything yours behind you so decisively that nothing more is left of you but purposeless tension.
autobiography – Eugen Herrigel

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DEAR BILL…

William Broad – You seem to poo poo the spiritual aspect of yoga which is the essential part of yoga. When you divorce the physical from the spiritual then you are dealing with the ego only – I won’t get into it, but that’s what gets you into trouble. It’s you, not yoga, that makes you mis-step, feel less than, get injured.
When the ego drives the work in yoga (any part of it – BTW, yoga is not just the physical work – asana), then you get injured. You said it yourself – with all the pretty flexy girls in class doing crazy postures, you said, you couldn’t help but follow and try to match them. I would think that after 40 years of practice you would know better; You would see that you are imposing a structure (your own) onto the practice of yoga that isn’t really there. It’s only there because of your own need to impress or prove or something else – or the teacher’s need to push you for some reason (and that’s a different story).
Any teacher worth their salt would have let you know that you are treading into dangerous waters when you leave your own senses and become an instrument of your own ego. Yoga practice of any sort doesn’t look to highly on that sort of thing. It is you who’s deciding to go there; to deny the truth of your own reality…that your body may be too old or too much a guy’s body and not a young chickidees body to do the things they were doing! In fact, if you did yoga with the spiritual/philosophical aspect in mind you would have known that through your readings/teachings. But you obviously don’t.
Yoga is very scientific – traditionally. There is a reason for everything you do in the more traditional practices. You do get results. But when taught wrong through lack of knowledge or an imposing ego (teacher or you), it all can go horribly wrong.
Yes people have changed the practice of yoga – too much in my opinion. And really if you listen very closely, you will hear the little whine from those that change it for their own needs, into their own image. I say, you don’t have to change a thing.
Just because someone’s a teacher/guru doesn’t mean they know what’s what here or in India. The depth of the practice has been almost lost and we are usually paying lip service to someone else’s ego’s notion of what yoga is. That is wrong to me.
Changing the practice is thinking you know better. Changing the way we teach is recognizing the depth of ourselves. Much different. You can read thousands of books on yoga; they’re out there, go to a million classes there’s enough of those to go around too. If you are still looking without instead of within, in other words, looking for the wisdom outside of yourself instead of within:
“If he (she, my addition) is indeed wise, the teacher does not bid you enter the house of wisdom, but rather he (she) leads you to the threshold of your own mind.” Kahlil Gibran,
if you can’t find a good teacher to guide you to the truth of yourself, if you still think you know better instead of earnestly trying to shed all of your resistance to the teachings, if you treat yoga less than what it truly is and has to offer, you’ll never find what your looking for –  – a deep, meaningful, challenging, mind-blowing, humbling, life-affirming and joyful life.