Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Why do you?

Why do you practice Yoga?

This is a question that has come up a ton over the last decade. My reasoning’s have also changed a lot over time.

When I first began yoga, it was a practice that forced me deep into my body, getting me out of my head and taught me about my greatest resource, the breath. I used the practice as a way to heal my physical ailments and filter my minds negative tendencies.

Years passed by and I found myself falling into a “yoga rut”. Where I became competitive with my self and the other yogi’s in class. Comparing myself to others and beating myself up when I didn’t meet up, critiquing myself when I struggled in a pose. Thus the practice I originally leaned into for solace then became another excuse to beat myself. Trust me I have a lot of those already.

It took awhile (I’ve been practicing yoga since 2002), but I eventually became aware of this. I saw the gap in my practice and recognized the choice I had in the moment. There was no way I could sustain my yoga if it was going to create this much inner turmoil. Something had to change.

That’s when I made a commitment to let my yoga practice be a practice of Self Love, a practice of Self Care. So I started going to more fitness classes, like spinning at the local gym, Zumba (b/c it’s freakin’ fun), Barre method classes to balance out my need to burn calories and “stay fit”, so that my yoga practice could be something different. So that I could unroll my yoga mat each day and consider, “what do I need today?” “How can I serve my Self?”. Sometimes this meant taking my yoga practice outside to the beach, or on the grass at the local park. Other times, this meant more of a focus on pranayama (breath work) and meditation, maybe some mantra. Sometimes my asana practice was gentle and restorative, other times it was steady and vigorous. Either way, I was letting go of the expectations that it needed to look a certain way. That it needed to be in a particular format. That my self worth was measured on my capability, when in reality my Self worth is my birthright. There’s nothing I need to do to acquire value and I am good enough whether I ever get my feet behind my head or not. I practice Yoga because it reminds me of this and allows for the necessary time to remember just how special and important I am in this crazy thing called Life.


May you spend some time considering why you practice yoga? There’s no right or wrong, good or bad, so let go of the categorizing of it all. Just be true to your self and I promise your practice will deepen and your understanding of Self will grow.

With you on this path,
Lauren

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Puzzle


Our physical practice is a piece of our puzzle. It is a very important piece. A corner piece. The one that often, people start with. I feel that although our practice on our mat is important, it is also our job as yogis to step off our mat and carry it farther. Gather the other pieces of the puzzle and put them together. To find the oneness, kindness, non-harming pieces. The piece that includes devotion, unity and divinity in all.

By connecting these pieces we build a stronger foundation, stronger roots and from there, a strong community. Walls come down. We live from a place of love and give permission to our neighbours to do the same, and then their neighbours.

If not, then this is just exercise and although exercise may help the individual it doesn’t necessarily serve the whole. Continue to move and breath and sit and play on your mat and when you roll it up know that this is just one piece of a much larger puzzle.

Let’s gather the pieces so we can create positive change in our world. So we can look into the eyes of our children’s children and honestly say we did it. As the puzzle is put together and it expands it will reach places we never imagined.

Oneness. Kindness. Love. It will glue the pieces into place.

From my heart and my mat to yours,
CJ


Thursday, 17 July 2014

What the monkey doesn't know

In the yoga tradition, stories are used as metaphors with rich and wise teachings in them. One story that one of my teacher shared with me years ago that comes up often as a great reminded for me, is the story of how to catch monkey in India.

To catch a monkey in India, you need a handful of peanuts and a glass bottle that has a wide bottom and a narrow opening at the top. Place the handful of peanuts at the bottom of the glass container and put the glass bottle in the courtyard of your home/place of residence. Then wait and watch. Soon you will see a monkey (or several) appear and approach the bottle. One will eventually put it's hand in the bottle and grab the peanuts. When the monkey goes to pull his hand out, he will be stuck. Unable to get his hand out of the glass container. You have then caught your monkey.

What the monkey doesn't know (yet) is that if he just let go of the peanuts he could get his hand out and be free from the trap. 

This story is a metaphor or an example of a common human behaviour to attach to people, possession, places and experiences. The yoga teachings say that it is our attachments that create suffering in our lives.

Vairagya in Sanskrit, means to be free from attachment, without rejecting anything. This represents a state of mind that is aware and observant to the events of life (nature), however unaffected with that which is occurring. Sounds simple, yet has complicated qualities to it. You could say it's seeing the reality behind things, without reacting or over identifying with that reality.

To relate this back to our hatha yoga practice, (which I hope you're all keeping up with over the summer), lets imagine a time when you're practicing yoga with other people, which usually means people of all different levels and capacities. The person to your right is Super flexible and can do anything the teacher asks. The person to your left is stiffer and seems to struggle more often in the postures. The teacher asks everyone to attempt the full splits (Hanumanasana). Right there, you may already be attached to the pose, mentally categorising this posture as one you like or dislike, which in turn creates an internal attraction or aversion. Then you begin the process of entering into the posture and you look to your right where the person is flat on the ground. You look to your left and the person is struggling, yet optimistic. You however are fierce and the inner conversation is intense. You're pushing past your edge and beating yourself up as you go along. Your attachment to a particular depth in the posture is holding you back from experiencing the fullness that already exists in the pose, in your body. If you could just be accepting of where you are in that pose, in that moment and practice non-attachment by observing without reacting, than your experience of this pose can change altogether. You will be free from the unnecessary suffering.

In other words the wise sages of yoga say that, non-attachment is the key to liberating you from suffering. So may we all witness our attachments with a willingness to be accepting of where we are and less reactive to what is it that we observe. In the hopes of releasing our unnecessary grasp on the peanuts of life. 

From my heart to yours,
Lauren

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Radiance Sutras

I have been reading the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra which is a beautiful conversation between the Creative Power of the Universe, the Goddess and the God who is the Consciousness. I have been falling in love with this text and I want to share one of the 112 techniques that is offered by Shiva to his lover Shakti as a way of enlightenment through everyday life experience.

I am reading the translation by Lorin Roche, Ph.D.  titled The Radiance Sutras

The heart of the universe pulses in all hearts,
There is One who is the life in all forms.
There is One who is joyful in simply existing-
     In all bodies,
     As all bodies.

Explore the life that is the life of your present form.
One day you will discover
It is not different
From the life of the Secret One,
And your heart will sing triumphant songs
Of being at home everywhere.


Love.

CJ

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Summer Stars

One of my absolute favourite things to do in the summer is stargaze. When I think back to some of my fondest memories as a kid, they are sitting around a camp fire by the lake with family and friends playing games, eating s'mores, and laughing, followed by late night stargazing on the top of our houseboat or on the sandy shores. 

May you spend many hours gazing at the summer stars. In awe of the vastness of the universe and the satisfaction of knowing we are apart of it all. 

Summer Stars by Carl Sandburg
BEND low again, night of summer stars.
So near you are, sky of summer stars,
So near, a long arm man can pick off stars,
Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl,
So near you are, summer stars,
So near, strumming, strumming,
So lazy and hum-strumming.

From my heart to yours,
Lauren