And it has been for thousands of years because it’s who we are, our true nature.
I’m writing today from Ballston Spa, home of Jennilee Toner’s The Yoga Spa. The second hot warrior teacher training is underway, and I have the privilege of coming back to refresh, deepen, and connect with this practice that changed everything for me. Yoga helped me wake up, connect to my true self, and begin to share what is in my heart…without fear or self-consciousness.
Thanks to LittleMissObsessive’sAnatomy for helping inspire this post with her queries. I have a few minutes to write while I sit in one of my new favorite places (and a topic for another post), the Iron Roost.
Today’s message is to give it a try. Whenever you can, wherever you can, with whatever comfortable clothes and gear you have. And if you prefer home at first, there are boat loads of DVDs and books…but I’ve come to appreciate the Internet and two online studios: My Yoga Online and YogaVibes. Friends of lifeyum get a free week of My Yoga Online by clicking here, and YogaVibes usually offers a free trial period.
Always: Do your mouth yoga. Lift the corners of your mouth and smile, just a little, even when you may not feel like it. You’ll usually feel a little better after. Relax your shoulders down your back. Breathe deeper, slower. As you exhale, draw your navel to your spine.
Or, just breathe.
“There is the you and the not you…You are not your thoughts.” The Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson
Until we begin to understand that we are not our thoughts, yoga appears to be advocating a puritanical form of repression. If we are our thoughts, then yoga is simply a perpetual battle between equals. …The paradigm shift comes on the mat and in meditation, when we discover that there is another player. There is the self who witnesses our thoughts. In Tibetan Buddhism, the analogy is that our mind is the sky and our thoughts are the clouds. As we hold a posture or sit in meditation, we can begin to understand what the Tibetan Buddhists and the Reverend Jesse Peterson are saying. As we hold a posture, an aspect of ourselves is observing and learning, it is growing with our bodies. And yes, there is another aspect of ourselves that is looking at the clock, thinking about all we could do if we left class ten minutes early, adjusting our shorts so we won’t look fat, feeling tired or annoyed, exhilarated or unhappy.
Avidya is believing that the endless distracting thoughts are who we are. Vidya is the understanding that we are the quiet witness who is present as we hold a posture or sit in meditation. We were never meant to be our thoughts—and that includes those thoughts that are attached to pleasure. To overcome attachment to pleasure, we don’t need to repress our reactions to experience; rather, we simply need to systematically develop our relationship with the witness, with the expansive sky. As we hold a posture, it becomes clear that we can cultivate distraction or direction, resistance or peace, a sense of who we are or a sense of who we are not.
…As we shift our focus from the material to the spiritual, we find that we are truly living on another plane, a plane whose rules can be perceived only by the heart. Once we develop this understanding, the world becomes our classroom. We are always practicing. Some postures we do on the mat, but most we do off the mat. There is really no distinction. Every interaction, each moment, each breath is an opportunity to grow spiritually, to practice yoga. We find that “everything in life is pointing us back to our true nature.” Stephen Cope
I send out a weekly email about my classes, so if you’re in my neighborhood or nearby, here’s just a tasting of the goodness at the studio that is my happy second home, estudio.
Bernardina, fellow hot warrior trained teacher and dear friend, will guide this week’s karma class. Emily and estudio have lived the principles of yogic karma since their opening five years ago, giving and sharing simply because it is the right way to live. More often than not, their gifts are anonymous, unannounced. (That’s karma, giving without expecting anything in return.) The karma class has a twofold mission: to attract people interested in yoga who might otherwise hesitate, and to provide a ready fund for charitable giving. Donations only; give what you feel.
Thursday, June 14, 9-10:15 am
75 minute hot power vinyasa with Lisa subbing for Emily this week
Hot Power Vinyasa: 75 or 90 minutes, always beginning with focus on the breath, checking in with your body and how you feel. Progressively, as you warm up, move into more challenging postures. Release compression, expand, enliven, and wring out the metabolic acids. Finally, surrender to gravity, and allow your body to integrate all the work of your practice. Breathe and relax every muscle in your being, especially your mind.
Saturday, June 16, 12-2 pm
Acro Yoga Workshop with Tres Greenwade
Learn the art of using one another’s body weight and breath to open and warm the body. $25/person, first-come, first-served.
Father’s Day, Sunday, June 17: two hot yoga classes and a guided meditation
Emily’s always powerful hot yoga!
Inner Light Meditation with Maureen Sullivan
In honor of fathers who are with us and those who live on in our hearts, all proceeds will benefit Father Peter Young’s programs for the homeless and addicted. $20/person.
Knowledgable and lovely Noreen graces estudio this Father’s Day and last Sunday evening hot yoga offering for the season
We look forward to bringing Sunday evenings back in the fall, 5-6:30 pm, but always know that estudio’s creator Emily teaches a powerful, strengthening, detoxifying class every Sunday morning, 9:45-10:45 am.
- Sunday night reset (lifeyum.com)
- “I want to be of service to others by sharing yoga selflessly and free of charge.” (elephantjournal.com)
- Yoga Yoga Yoga (thecommonsensewarrior.com)
- 10 Reasons Why More Guys Should Do Yoga. (elephantjournal.com)