Conversations between two Yoginis…

Yogini:

How can I simultaneously be overwhelmed with teacher training and wanting to add more workouts?

I’ve been taking around 5-6 yoga classes a week, including Mysore, and I’m starting to miss a more well-rounded routine with a bit of running and strength training thrown in (also, I’d love to look really, really good for Mexico).

But at the same time, I have very little time, feel constantly tired, and I’m very stressed with work. Not sure how to work this all out in my head.

My response:

“The distance between what you desire and what your reality is, is in exact proportion to how much pain you’re in.” – Wayne Liquorman said something like this…

Meaning that your desire for what is not yet reality (that’s your belief): “to look really, really good for Mexico” or to have the time to have a “well-rounded” training, is getting in the way of you being fully and completely in the present moment. When we’re not fully in the present moment, meaning appreciating – those who are with us, or the task at hand, then our lives feel empty and we believe we are lacking.

As far as I can see, there are two things going on for you: 1. you are not appreciating (but trying to) your effort and work in your yoga training because you think – one, that you should be doing more, and two, that there is some goal you’re not reaching if you don’t run or strength train…, and 2. you are not aware of the work that is actually happening. You may be “constantly” tired because you worry about not doing enough and can’t see that you might be pushing you too much – perhaps.

Go deeper.

I used to think like you. I did yoga. I worked out. etc. But when I finally relaxed into the practice and did nothing else I found that yoga gave me my body back! I wasn’t looking like every one out there because I am not every one out there. I came to appreciate my body more and stopped fighting against it.

Really what I have to say, or anyone else, will not do anything for you until you (your organism – not your head) are ready for a change.

All you need to know – truly – is that: you are in the place you need to be right now at this moment. This is your moment – the confusion, the dichotomy – it’s not a bad place to be. Listen to it. Be aware of how it rises and falls this feeling of being not “good enough” yet… Be aware and give yourself permission to feel this way. Identify the feeling. Where is it? Then just sit with it.

Immerse yourself in the present moment. When thoughts arise about the future, let them go as quickly as possible and say these things: I am here right now. I feel my… (hand on my lap – insert what is appropriate), I see… (insert what is appropriate), I smell… (insert what is appropriate). Repeat this over again, siting different things. Relax into the not knowing of where you’ll end up.

Learn to trust the universe!

Good luck!

Peace!

Christine

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Learning from Ourselves… Injury in Yoga: Continuing the Dialogue

Hi – I’m glad you got something out of it.

This is my long-winded response to your question: “Can we break free of our old broken ways without hurting it (our bodies)?”

I hope this helps…

Non-Dualism/Advaita (not two)

It is my understanding and what I believe to be true (always have), is that all is god/divine/universe. It is known in studied circles as non-dualism or Advaita. You can study Advaita Vedanta which is a branch of Vedanta (philosophy) that sees all as One.

According to Advaita, in the universe, there is no this or that. No light or dark, etc.. So then when experiencing anything: behavior, injury, circumstances, god, etc., then nothing is bad or good. It just is.

Thinking Mind

Our minds have separated things out; Put them into little boxes and called them bad or good, hot or cold, light or dark. I suppose it’s true and necessary to do this when you want to distinguish between things as humans walking this earth. But it’s when you start to qualify them that gets us into our heads and we stop experiencing things for what they are in the present moment.

The Judgement

Our imaginings as to what things mean to us according to what we’ve experienced in our lives take over. That’s when you become burdened with the thinking mind. It’s like telling a lie. You have to remember exactly what you’ve told yourself in order to get on with life. That becomes a burden. When the water is hot or cold you will react differently according to your circumstance – your present moment – you think, but in fact our reactions to most things come with a lot of baggage. That baggage are the qualifiers both personal and social that we put on certain things. Now the dark is bad and the light is good. Sometimes snow is fun, sometimes it’s awful and we hate it. Injury is bad and staying safe is good. Or worse you’re bad because you injured yourself and those who take care are good. (does this sound like something you know?)

What Advaita teaches us is to see things as they are without judgement, without qualifiers. When you take things as they are, there is no this or that. All is one and there is no judgement or qualification to separate it out. No putting it into a box with a label on it. You see it as it is. It is just a happening.

The Learning

For instance, I have a small hairline fracture in my fifth metatarsal. It happened as I was teaching a very fast vinyasa class. Fun! About 15 mins into the class, I noticed a sensation that there was something under my foot and didn’t notice the swelling until after the class. I went home put some ice on it, kept my foot up for the evening and next day and taught that evening and again the next day and the next. The “injury” told me one thing – that I was putting too much stress on my back foot in Virabhadrasana Two. It was not “preventable” because until the moment it happened, I didn’t know I was. In fact, the stress came from the tightness in my hips which taught me that I had to work from my hips/legs more in open hip postures – especially standing. My “injury” taught me how to work better. Now I’m not saying that everything is a teaching – but in this case I did learn. Meaning I became more aware of how my body works and reacts in certain postures. I do not think of it as injury and something to avoid. I think of it as injury, yes, and something to embrace and know that that is how my body needs to work itself out.

Our Experience

Our bodies have habits from the time we are very young. Our movements, how we walk, reach for things, jump out of the way, stand, sit are all set pretty much early on in our lives and are determined by who we mimic (our parents), and what we experience (physically, emotionally, psychically). These physical movements and their baggage are what we’re up against in our asana practice. Even being very flexible is something to overcome in practice. (I can tell you more about this later if you’d like – just ask.)

Consciousness

So the long and the short of it is this: as long as you are moving in the consciousness that is available to you at this time, then the work and the results of that work are all a part of the divine plan. If you are aware of how and what it is that you do then there is no this or that. There is just you doing the work. Your body will unfold in the practice as it needs to. Sometimes injury is a part of that unfolding.

Deeper Understanding

Richard Freeman (well-known guru of Ashtanga) says that he’s never had an injury. Well, bully for him. I know no one else and I know a lot of people in yoga. I believe that because of my struggles it affords me a deeper understanding of what most people are going through. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t move head-long into injury. I don’t like the recovery time and it always is that I have to start pretty much all over again. But even saying that – every time I start over – meaning, that my trikonasanas look like I’ve never done them before – I go deeper into the posture and feel a more profound connection to my body and my practice. That is worth all the struggle and hard work, for sure!

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Letting Go…

Letting Go...

Vulnerability IS the human condition. Yes – You ARE vulnerable to EVERYTHING.

We get on a plane – we can catch a cold or worse. We could fall out of the sky – yet we fly!
We live, work, ride on buses, drive on highways, interact with people who are in variant stages of insanity (including us) yet most of us get home every night. By the GRACE of the Universe, we do not live in a war zone!

We get up every morning and we step into the world in some form or another.

We are by virtue of being human – Vulnerable.

What a cruel joke it is that at a moments notice you could be gone – heart attack, stroke, getting hit by a car – simply being at the wrong place at the wrong time… or is it right place at the right time… There are countless stories about people ‘cheating’ death in one instance and weeks/months later It catching up with them.

Our hearts are vulnerable – how many of us have lost those near and dear to us, family, friends, lovers one way or another? Everyone has! Being in relationship is part of the human condition which is what makes vulnerability a part of the human condition. You can’t “fight” it – it is not “like height”. It is not measurable, it is not material – it is as it is.

Stop fighting it. Let go!

Beyond the layer of fear is a place of warmth that is the embrace of the Divine. The Ecstatic Surrender. Do this and vulnerability will not be your enemy. Look at the sculpture of the “Ecstasy of St. Teresa” by Bernini – it is her surrender to the Will of God – Ecstasy through Grace.
To know and live through your own heart is to know the Divine – and isn’t that ultimately what we are here for!?

Give up the need for control. Shit happens for better or worse. If you must, learn from it. We always want reasons for everything – ‘why’ is a question that can never be answered. Especially to our satisfaction – so let go.

Everything makes sense when you die to your own idea of yourself. Fear of vulnerability comes from an Identification with the small self. Me and I; an attachment to you and your physical and mental ability to stave off intruders. To protect oneself at all costs – to the cost of one’s Heart (not the sentimental heart though).

Non-attachment is key.

This energy that we live, flows through us whatever we are masquerading as – take it off – take off your costume and live as you truly are.

We document everything these days… I have a question…

We document everything these days... I have a question...

I’ve always been the type of person who would give someone the quarter, dime or even sometimes dollar they need at the cash register, or pick up a hat that someone dropped or call the last called number on a cell phone to ask the person on the other end to inform the owner that I found their phone. I’ve always opened doors, pushed cars out of snow banks and have sat with a person who was grazed by a passing car for the ambulance to come.

While I really appreciate the sentiment (click on the photo for the link) and what it’s supposed to be about – I have to ask the question…

I ask this question respectfully: Do we have to document everything we do now? What does this say about our society? What is it that we’re looking for when we inform everyone of our “good deeds”? Are we so inundated by bad news with video clips that we need an injection of goodwill to remind us of what it means to be human? A real one? Are we so out of touch with our hearts? Maybe.

Let’s not over do it ok? – I mean telling everybody on FB or Twitter or wherever. Otherwise – like yoga, the word ‘awesome’, that thing you do with your fingers to form a heart – “acts of kindness” (good deeds) will become so mundane, so trite, so saccharine that they will be rendered passé and thrown into the trash with ‘been-there-done-that’.

Acts of kindness are things to be witnessed – so don’t hesitate to do them just for the sake of doing them. Let whoever witnesses it be the one to sing your praises… that’s a risk I’m willing to take…

 

Lessons of a Yogini

Lessons of a Yogini

The body is a funny thing. Every day is different. Last year I was able to almost reach the ground: about 2 inches to go. Then all of a sudden I was unable to get low at all. My inner thigh muscles were excruciatingly tight. No warning. Nothing. They just didn’t want to play anymore.

My first reaction was – sadness – not anger. I was sad because “I’ve worked so hard…” etc. I was sad because I have the type of body that snaps back and sometimes can’t do things I suppose a ‘normal’ body can – or what we think a normal body can – it snaps back and I basically have to start pretty close to the beginning again. I was sad because when you get to a certain stage in your practice there’s a kind of flow that allows for that elusive sensation of freedom in the body which can be viscerally experienced and I lost that – at least I thought I had. I still feel it – even when I’m tight and my body seems uncooperative.

As I get older, I’ve realized a few things:

That this is really as far as I can go – physically. There are postures that I will never be able to do “successfully” – whatever that means.

That I know my body so well, that I can feel the small changes in my body which can be very satisfying, and therefore I work very smart these days.

And that what I was chasing in my early years of practice are not important anymore. Oh that doesn’t stop me from working postures to the point of a good sweat or at least feeling satisfied with my efforts. But that pendulum swing back and forth of emotions about what my body looks like in the posture does not equal my efforts doesn’t drive me.

I am grateful for all those years of effort though. The wish to be the best teacher drove me to really get to know postural yoga in a different way. In a way that was about asking the question: When I do postures, what makes it an aspect of YOGA? How am I expressing YOGA in an ‘imperfect’ body? Perseverance, courage and humility are the foundations of practice – am I expressing those? What is the difference between:

perseverance and greediness?

courage and ignorance?

humility and self-consciousness?

With those questions and more inspiration I became very attuned to my body, mind and spirit.

Back to the task of practice: it is more now about practicing and working on things as a matter-of-course rather than trying to get somewhere…fast.

So with the help of a combination of postures in my practice – including some unconventional ones like squatting sideways, with warrior twos and side angle, some seated and lying down hip openers. Now with a few months work I am slowly making my way down again. First time in months I am able to place my chest on the floor.

I am very content with my body and my practice these days. There is a certain amount of calm. That I suppose is what it means to really do YOGA.

Peace!

Creating From Limitations = Boundless Creativity

Creating From Limitations = Boundless Creativity

Great vid!

A TEDtalk about an artist and his Art process. A lesson for life.