Everyone should follow this blog – Change Coach Pam is amazing.
Happy weekend yogis! I have something a little new and different for you. Usually my posts are a bit ego-centric. I justify it to myself that it is showing how everyone has similar stresses, struggles, and successes… However, I would like to start a weekly post that will (hopefully) pass on some of the valuable information that I am learning through this process. There is a bit of background information you need to know before I get into the details, though…
I generally classify myself as agnostic. Many people believe that since the existence of God (or an analogous omniscient/omnipresent/omnipotent life-force) cannot be scientifically proven, then He/it cannot exist. I actually take it a step further, and believe that since science has also not proven that He/it does NOT exist, then there is no way I can know one way or the other.
So, not surprisingly, when I started doing yoga, I was 100% NOT into the philosophy/spirituality behind it. It all seemed pretty crazy to me before I got into it more. During teacher training, we have had to read/digest the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. I rebelled against this a bit. Not only did I start off being quite cynical of what I perceived to be the religious side of yoga, but I was also very resistant to the study of its philosophy. (I may have said this before, but I have always hated philosophy, since I see it as just conjecture.) Anyway, the more I got into yoga and the sutras, the more I realized that it actually makes sense to me.
The Yoga Sutra is not a strictly head-in-the-clouds philosophical text. It provides practical instructions on how to practice yoga to find your true self. (Now, when I use the word “yoga” in reference to the Yoga Sutras, I do not mean Hatha yoga, otherwise known as the popular yoga we see today, with all of the postures. This is actually just one of 8 sections to yogic practice.) They are broken up into four books:
- Book 1 – Portion on Contemplation
- Book 2 – Portion on Practice
- Book 3 – Portion on Accomplishments
- Book 4 – Portion on Absoluteness
I NEVER thought I would say this, but the sutras have actually helped me a lot. I can feel myself becoming much calmer and better able to deal with the stresses in my daily life. So, I thought that I would start posting a sutra every Saturday with an explanation of the meaning in the hopes that someone else could benefit as well. It may help you out, it may not. But, it cannot hurt, right? So, without further ado…
1. Now the exposition of yoga is being made.
The first sutra in the Portion on Contemplation simply states the purpose of the book. Not so deep, right? Patanjali wanted to ensure that in the very first sentence, he stated that the Yoga Sutra is not some philosophical text with no practical application. With the dedicated practice of what is described in this text, one can achieve anything they set out to achieve.
I should not do a lot of random searching online… I just realized that one of my favorite teachers does Anusara immersions. I guess I know what I am spending a bunch of money on in a year or two.
My psoai (plural of psoas muscle – and yes, I looked up what the plural of that word is) are killing me. Along with just about every muscle I knew I had, and some others that I was not aware existed. Holy moly. The more amazing part is probably that none of the soreness is bad soreness. It is all the good-sore that comes from a really great workout. 4 hours of yoga on Saturday, plus an hour of hula hooping, and 3 hours of advanced practice yoga on Sunday = Kate’s muscles are “wicked tired”. I went to a friend’s class tonight, which I knew would be calming, because I think my muscles would have shaken right off the bone if I tried my usual class.
So, Saturday was an open house at my favorite yoga studio (Shiva Shakti). The lineup was great – hula hooping (it is actually a great workout if you try to keep that crazy hoop moving), restorative yoga, 2 Anusara classes, and a short vinyasa class. I went into it kind of thinking, “each class is pretty short, so how crazy can it be?” I should know better. The two Anusara teachers are amazing at tailoring the class to be great for both beginners and advanced practitioners… so as usual I felt the need to push myself far. I was super excited, though. I don’t know if you remember one of my goals from when I first started teacher training. Basically I want to be able to do the full expression of dancer’s pose. I still cannot do that. However, I am slowly starting to pick away at non-standing versions of this pose, such as eka pana rajakapotasana. I can get one hand on the foot, and the foot up to my head. I will have this within the next 2 weeks or I will go crazy.
Then, on Saturday night, I taught a few of my friends, all pretty much beginners, a class. I love teaching, but it is definitely tougher when you know the people in the class, and especially when the class is at a non-standard location (aka my living room, as opposed to a yoga studio). It is just very weird, and conversation tends to disrupt the flow. Good practice for a community class, that’s for sure!
Sunday… what can I say about Sunday? If you ever get a chance to take a class with Charlotte Clews (http://wildopenheart.com/), do it. Do. It. In addition to an amazing advanced practice, centering on deep hip openers and arm balances, she gave us great advice about things to do to remain injury-free. These are the little tips and tricks I love. I never want to cause injury. She gave us great tips for wrist and shoulder health that I have never heard before. Unfortunately, it is really hard to explain in writing. I will try to figure it out, but for now, you will have to trust me.
All in all, an amazing weekend. I am sad it is over, but will take the things I have learned with me through this yogic journey. Namaste.
Disclaimer before you read this post: I am not a feminist in the strictest sense of the word. You will not catch me trying to do everything men can do, and in fact, I love that men have different strengths than women. It is what makes the world go around – complementary skill-sets. I just think it is ridiculous that men can come even THIS close to having control over my body in this day and age.
Much like any woman in America these days, I am riled up about a number of idiotic bills restricting my reproductive freedom making their way to votesin some states. (For a description of the most ridiculous of them, see the link. It could also be tagged as, “States in which Kate will never live, and why”.)
We all think we have advanced pretty far as a society, right? We have freedom of religion, abolished slavery awhile ago, women can vote, and some states are beginning to recognize gay marriage. We are so liberal and fantastic! Go us! Hillary is the Secretary of State, and we almost had a female Vice President there. Apparently, this has become too much for male politicians. It seems that they are trying to push us back in time to when women had zero rights. Enforced rape, firing women for being on birth control, and putting our lives at risk to carry a stillborn baby to full term? Excuse my French, but are you F#@&ing serious? A dead baby’s life is now more important than a woman’s. What is good enough for a cow is good enough for me – sign me up to bear any random dude’s children! That is all I am good for anyway.
Female politicians are firing back with bills designed to put the focus on reproductive health and freedom by proposing similar bills focusing on male reproduction. For example, one bill proposed that any man ejaculating anywhere but into a vagina should be arrested, since the sperm are not seeking an egg. Seems crazy, but it is not so different in theory from the insane bills that are being proposed by men to restrict women’s reproductive freedom.
It is so strange how we come full circle. The eugenics movement of the early 1900s, which ended up being the basis of the Nazi movement, started off benign enough. The people of the time who were considered to be mental degenerates – the mentally retarded, mentally ill, etc – were sterilized to protect themselves and their unborn babies. (As a note, the eugenics movement had some trouble staying in American society due to that pesky little phrase from the Declaration of Independence – “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”) Without the context of how the movement ended up, it did not seem like a horrible idea back then. The huge problems occurred when the line of “mental degenerate” was pulled inward to include only one race / cultural group and more and more drastic measures were taken to prevent pregnancy (ie. death). If this is the crazy turn that sterilization programs took, what kind of insanity could follow this anti-female-freedom revolution? All women get rounded up to huge brothels where men just impregnate them willy nilly? And then women are forced to birth the babies and rear them, probably while pregnant (since of course another man would come along to give you some of their precious sperm)? We create an army with the new baby boom generation and take over the world by brute force, one continent at a time?
I find it interesting that the Hindu goddess, Shakti, the personification of the divine feminine, is the goddess of liberation. The word “shakti” literally means “to be able”, and is taken to mean sacred force and empowerment. Sadly, these days, some men are trying to take our liberty away from us. Stay strong my lovely ladies, and keep Shakti in your thoughts. VOTE in the upcoming elections. We can’t let these crazies run our country.
Hi yogis! Sorry I have been away for so long – not sure what has gotten into me.
I have been thinking a lot about random things, so I will definitely have some interesting posts for you in the next week or so. Today, though, I just wanted to comment on the fact that there is very little about yoga that I do not like. I even usually like the philosophy of yoga, even though I am not really the philosophy type. I think that I can probably only stand it because I love the asanas so much, the end result is basically nothingness, and it is usually delivered in small doses. Except for today.
Our teacher training workshop for today was the second and third installments of “yoga philosophy”. 6 hours in total. And it was a GORGEOUS day outside. Like, I would gladly give up my left hand if everyday for the rest of my life could be exactly the type of day it was today. 6 hours of philosophy (inside) = torture.
This baby makes a cuter “bored” face than I do, but you get the picture.
The good news is that with every class, every workshop, I am closer to the goal of being a certified yoga teacher. I taught another class this morning as a sub for one of my YTT friends, and I can already see that I am going to love teaching. So much. I cannot understand how someone who was previously as afraid of attention and speaking in front of people as I was could possibly love teaching yoga so much. Isn’t life full of delightful little surprises sometimes?
I decided last night that I want to perform a legitimate life cleanse. Basically, I want to remove as many negative influences from my life as possible – mainly people, stresses, and food. Like Samantha from Sex and the City said in regards to romantic relationships, if you are more often like than then something is wrong. I want my life to be mostly and there are definitely people, situations, foods, etc, that are making me consistently feel .
I have been feeling a lot better in the brains and body since I have started doing so much yoga, which is great. I was not in a good mental place when I started, and am now feeling a lot better. However, I think that more drastic measures need to be taken. I know exactly how I want to move forward with the people aspect… Stresses will be a little difficult, as I cannot just quit my stressful job (considering that this will add financial stress). The yoga has been helping me not focus on the stress of the job so much, though, so that is a plus.
As for the food aspect, I would kind of like to start with a cleanse in the hopes that it will break my bad food habits and then I can get into a healthier routine. Do you have any recommendations for this? I am not looking to lose weight, just to detoxify my system and get me back to a good baseline. Please comment if you know of anything that would work! There are just so many options out there!
If you are considering teaching yoga, read this article by Karen Fabian. She is an incredible teacher and has amazing words of wisdom for new (and experienced) yoga teachers. I have been lucky enough to have her as a teacher during teacher training. (I am very blessed.) If you would like to learn more, her website is www.barebonesyoga.com.
We talked a lot about freedom during the yoga class I went to tonight. The more you push yourself to experience a pose, the freer you are in it. Almost exclusively, this takes a huge amount of courage. Think about a handstand or a headstand. If you are like me, you are terrified of flipping over. However, if you never face that fear, you will never attain the pose. You will never be free, because your fear is holding you back from your true potential.
Now, even if you do not do yoga at all, this is a useful practice for everyday life. Yoga is merely a metaphor for life. We need to be courageous in everyday life. How many times do we hold back in relationships because we are afraid that the other person will not like the real us? And how often do those relationships last?
Be courageous today, yogis, if only in a small way. If you do one thing that scares you each day, soon it will become second nature. Once you can be consistently courageous, you will be free. And as Thucydides said, you must be totally free in your mind, body, and spirit in order to achieve true happiness.