Yoga

Note to self: Keep it movin’

The coming and going from point A to point B and back again is observed from the atomic level to the galactic level and beyond. It’s universal. In the face of constant movement between polarities, yoga and ayurveda point the way to achieving balance while also embracing the flow. The flow is the way of earthly life, after all. Change can be beautiful and it can be scary, but above all, it is inevitable.

When we lose touch with natural rhythms for whatever reason, imbalance occurs. Stagnation. Ayurveda notes that in this place where the flow is excluded, disease can take hold. In the time that I’ve studied ayurveda, I’ve maintained an awareness of this principle with regard to my diet and the care of my body. It was only recently, however, that I began to comprehend its role in my emotional health.

It is important to experience emotions. They are a gift that makes the colors of my human experience more vivid and gives me insight that would not be available otherwise. But, like everything else, it is essential to let them keep moving or stagnation will occur. Stagnation creates the foothold for what, my dears? Dis-ease. The old must be released to make space for the new to enter.

So, I began paying particular attention to my emotions- observing them, acknowledging them, and letting them go on their merry way. Great lessons, all in all. Yet, I couldn’t shake this feeling. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until… I allowed that it was time to face the monster- FEAR.

I couldn’t wrap my arms around it, or my mind. I just felt blank and numb. But this is FEAR we’re talking about! I should feel terrified, right? Then… BAM!! It hit me square in the face: Could it be that I’ve held on to so much fear and stuffed it in every fiber of my being for so long that it had become my new normal? Had I allowed myself to become so filled with fear that it pops up everywhere, all the time until it seems like the way it is?

I realized that YES! that was most likely true, and in so doing, I began to let go of it. I can’t say that I’m feeling all light and free these days, but I am aware. And awareness is the wormhole back to the present moment- the moment in which I can choose to go with the flow. I can observe the rhythm and the motion and be a part of it.

In my years of asana practice, I’ve heard over and over that hip-opening poses aid in the release of emotions (the hips are one place in the body where we hold our emotions). So, I’ve been following the yoga doctor’s orders and taking regular doses of hip openers. While I haven’t experienced a powerful emotional release like Julia Cohn describes in her recent article, the practice reaffirms my faith that yoga is a gateway back to balance.

Learn more about hip-opening poses here. What’s your favorite?

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Wanna see the coolest thing??

Retire your televisions, people! 😉

Soul TV is here! You can now have a continuously updated selection of yoga and meditation classes, inspirational spiritual talks, and general goodness from the amazing folks at the Soul Center.

This is such an unbelievable blessing that they have put this together. But yet… coming from them, I can totally believe it. Check it out and see what all the fuss is about.

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Yoga this week!

I’ll be teaching twice this week- on Wednesday 11/16 at noon and Saturday 11/19 at 2:30pm. Please click on either date for additional details. I would love to see you there!

Peaceॐ

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Happiness is…

You are here in this lifetime because there was a need on Earth for you. Exactly you. Just as you are and who you are. The universe called you forth because there was a part that only you could play. That’s how important your life is.

As a 5th grader, I played Patty in my school’s production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” She’s not one of the more well-known Peanuts. And she’s not Peppermint Patty. She’s just Patty. In the big final song, Patty has one solo line to sing… “Happiness is playing the drum in your own school band.” Trust me when I tell you that I stepped into the spotlight and belted it with all my little heart.

This life is your moment in the sun, and the song you sing is you. If you really feel like belting it so that it resonates in every corner, be the fullest and most authentic expression of you that you can possibly be.

I mentioned before that Ahimsa (the Yama that I’m focusing on currently) is commonly interpreted as ‘non-violence.’ Sooo… I don’t yell at anyone or punch them in the face and I’m cool, right? Done and done.

Not so fast there, tiger…

Donna Farhi expands on the definition (very usefully, I think) by saying that Ahimsa is refraining from any act that would inhibit a being from growing to its fullest potential. Ground floor of that establishment, for me, is letting go of judgment. Judgment is not my business. It’s The Judge’s business. And guess what? The Judge loves all and forgives all, so it really must be none of my business to find someone guilty for being who they are.

I tend to have some unconventional ideas from time to time- not so much ‘mainstream.’ One of the most important lessons I’ve picked up along the way is that I don’t need everyone to agree with me. I don’t need to convert everyone to my way of thinking. I simply need to respect others’ right to be themselves and pray that they return the favor.

Sounds great, right? Easy enough… I’ll do that. But wait!! I kinda sorta left something out. Something that I find to be the most challenging part of the whole exercise. Unconditional acceptance has to begin within. You have to grow the seed before you can give away the tomatoes.

Unconditional acceptance is so critical to me as I evolve that I practice sending it to each of my trillions of cells. I meditate and pray to find guidance to my fullest potential and to master the Divine art of acceptance. To know my Self so that I may realize my purpose.

Letting go of the limitations and restrictions of my ‘reality,’ I’ve come to see the big picture- ie, we are all cells in the body of Source. Source sends unconditional acceptance to each of us. How crucial is it that the nerve cells in your body don’t wake up tomorrow and feel pressure to become bone cells? How important is it that the skin cells don’t decide they’re threatened by the muscle cells and need to eradicate them? Thank goodness they don’t. They each have their part to play and they play it.

That is just how important your life is.

Om Shanti.

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Read this… slowly

The universe has an amazing way of providing me with every lesson I need. But often, the noise of my own wheels turning keeps me from paying attention. Thank goodness that the cosmic professor is not one to throw her hands up easily. (You’re her favorite student, by the way. You. Are.)

In the Summer of 2010, I was on a hot streak with my reading list. I had been praying for guidance and I was led to three books that changed my life [Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, and Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Bhagavad Gita]. I was tremendously inspired. I saw creation though new eyes (or perhaps a single eye), yet I hadn’t given myself a chance to sit with what I was learning and absorb it.

So, she sat back and looked at my effort and said, “I’m very proud of you. You’ve been working very hard. You’re doing well on your homework and tests, but I still get the feeling that you’re not fully getting it. Try this.”

I skinned my knee nearly to the bone, and I couldn’t bend it. I had almost zero range of motion in my right shoulder. All the things I do in a day that I take for granted suddenly required great attention- if I could do them at all. Talk about humbling… I couldn’t walk. I could only shuffle and limp. I’m right-handed. I had to do everything one-handed with my left hand. Still, I stayed committed to meditating and practicing (the most gentle) yoga every day. In fact, almost everything but that had stopped.

In the stillness, I could hear the message loud and clear, “Slow down! You don’t have to rush. Everything you need is right here, right now.” I had to bring my full attention to the present moment… and it was awesome. It required such presence and inspired such gratitude and humility that every action became a ceremony. I had read that this moment is not just a bridge to some point in the future. Finally, I understood the power of that on every level of my being.

To learn the lessons I needed to learn about healing, I had to have it broken down like that. I had to experience that time of healing my physical body so that that energy could begin to ripple into other areas. As I’m focusing on Ahimsa now, I’m reminded that growth does not require ‘go, go, go.’ Sometimes it requires just the opposite.

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The Yamas: Ahimsa and the ants

Donna Farhi explains Ahimsa (non-violence) as not doing anything that will inhibit the growth of any being. I acknowledge that I inhibit my own spiritual growth with negative thinking and habits. Those are all acts of violence against myself. I vow to be mindful of practicing Ahimsa inward and outward.

If anything, my practice of Ahimsa served to reinforce that all great things must begin in the present moment. Even if I have no bad intentions whatsoever, my actions can still create chaos when they don’t come from a place of mindfulness. This message has been brought to you by my roommates, the ants.

During my yoga teacher training, I gave myself permission to ignore housework entirely. Yay, me! Then, I came home to find that the ants had taken over. Up until then, I went about getting rid of the ants like it was just plain bad housekeeping if there was an ant. Anywhere. Ever. Even though for every one I killed, ten seemed to pop up in its place.

But during this week, I stopped to watch the ants marching six-deep across my countertop, and I decided to let the ants be the ants. They reminded me very much of videos I had seen of blood circulating in the human body. I cleaned up what was necessary, and the ants retreated somewhat. Miracle of miracles!

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Hanging in Patanjali’s yoga tree

“Just as each limb is essential for the optimal functioning of your body, every limb of yoga practice is important.”
~Donna Farhi, from Yoga: Mind Body and Spirit

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes eight aspects of yoga that mark the path to enlightenment. He call them the Eight-fold Path of yoga: Yamas (restraints), Niyamas (qualities), Asana (physical postures), Pranayama (control of breath), Pratyahara (drawing attention inward/away from the senses), Dharana (focused attention), Dhyana (meditation/concentration), and Samadhi (bliss).

Although Asana is the most familiar branch to most Westerners, I share Donna Farhi‘s sentiment that all of the limbs are necessary to achieve balance. The first steps, yama and niyama, are a lot like the yoga ten commandments.

During my Yoga Teacher Training, I devoted one week to each of the yamas and niyamas. It built a foundation that brought new depth and understanding to my asana practice. So much so that I’m going to have another go at it. I’m not giving myself any time parameters this time, though. If it takes six months to be ready to move on from Ahimsa, then so be it. Also, I’ll be sharing my original experiences with each yama from this Summer.

Get ready for Ahimsa in 3…2…1…

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Notes on Shakti [act 1, scene 1]

So, I was on the phone the other day with my mother, Kathy Ann… the Alpha & Omega of Kamelien (or K & …n, at least). She was very confused about several things- the most bell-ringing of which was… who’s Shakti??

Whoa there, Kath… who’s Shakti?!!

Where I am, right now geographically, is thousands of miles away from anything that was familiar to me growing up. And that’s just the beginning. I am such a blessed, forgetful little bunny that I even take ‘Shakti’ for granted sometimes (wrist slap…gently).

Please begin here if you would like to learn more. ॐ

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Namaste, yoga lovers!

I’m a busy little bee trying to get everything assembled and packaged here. Please standby…. ♥

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Toddler Yoga @ Babies in Bloom
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