CONNECTION, COMPASSION, COMMUNITY
March 10, 2011. Dedicated to all those finding their best courage in connecting to each other in a time of serious challenge. And love to those digging out from the incredible Earthquake in Japan. Einstein said it like this, “A human being is a part of a whole, called by us 'universe', a part limited in time and space. But he experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us. Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”
So today as we offer support around the world we also recognize internally how important it is for each of us to feel supported. It is as Earon Davis says, “It takes community to maintain a human.” Community, communion, compassion all of these and more that the practice teaches us through the vehicle of ourselves and trying to experience democracy and connection there first before taking it into relationship with others. One of my personal meditations I use is where I ask myself as much as I reach out to others, “can I be reached?”
So I ask you, “CAN YOU BE REACHED?” How easily do you accept support from your breath, from the earth, from your friends, from those that are trying to make your life easier? If its not so easy then come to the mat even more until you feel it possible within your body and heart and this will ignite the trust to connect with others.
Quite frankly it's easy to disconnect from ourselves and what we are feeling. Yoga brings us back into a state of connection.On the mat we begin the pose with the mind first and then the breath and body follow. This is why the sophistication in cuing is so remarkable as a way to "work out" our mind muscle and make it less flabby. How can we even begin to see the connections between ourselves and the world if our mind muscle isn't strong enough to see the communion or connection within our own body? And really what are we talking about here? Why bother at all? Because a strong mind muscle is what keeps us living lovingly and fully! It is always about LOVE. Jack Kornfield says it like this:
"Love creates a communion with life. Love expands us, connects us, sweetens us, ennobles us. Love springs up in tender concern, it blossoms into caring action. It makes beauty out of all we touch. In any moment we can step beyond our small self and embrace each other as beloved parts of the whole."
So today, know the more you connect to yourself the more you are able to connect to others. The more you share compassion with yourself, the more you have compassion for others. And once you find this communion with life then everything becomes about love. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
PS Join me on a yoga retreat www.alchemytours.com and stay in touch www.silviamordini.com
BREATH ACCEPTS YOUR IMPERFECTION
OCTOBER 14, 2010. The breath accepts us unconditionally. It is always all forgiving and accepting. Think about it, we ignore our breath, treat it with total disregard, prevent it from entering our body by holding our breath out when stressed, we behave casually towards it making little to no commitment. If we were a lover and the breath was our boyfriend, he'd leave us!
But not our breath. It lovingly accepts our human imperfection and gives us another chance, and another, and a million and more. There is a lesson here: when we breath we have another chance to try our best, We are not practicing to be perfect. We are practicing to make real, to realize the beauty of our humanness. Yoga philosophy helps us to see that we are perfectly imperfect. Eventually the more you practice becoming enamored with your breath you allow it to become your best teacher. And a shift happens.
As the breath accepts you, you start to accept yourself. Then as you practice this advanced yoga of self-acceptance you become more compassionate and forgiving of others, just as you are towards yourself. If you love yourself, you know how to love others unconditionally. And even when other people in your life make mistakes, you appreciate their imperfections and give them a second, third, millionth chance.
"You see the wider practice of yoga is not about arranging our life so that it is perfect and easy and non-challenging. Rather it is about using the discipline we find in asana practice (and in the other practices of yoga as well) to be able to remain “easy” in the midst of difficulty. That is the true measure of freedom. When we learn this then everything we do and everything we say becomes an “asana”, a position of body, mind and soul which requires the attention that brings us into the present." And in that present moment there is perfect presence.
Practice breathing on purpose today. But pranayama is not about belittling the breath or forcing or making it perfect. The literal translation is below. And it doesn't say anything about perfect. It says conscious, deliberate. So we try.
Tasmin sati svasa prasvasaho gati-viccheda pranayama
Pranayama is the conscious, deliberate regulation of the incoming and outgoing flow of breath replacing unconscious patterns of breathing. It is possible only after a reasonable mastery of asana practice.
- Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2.49
Our key breath learning in this practice was about chest breathing. I have included a quick summary for you below. The greater take away is how the breath accepts your imperfections, it knows you will forget and will welcome you back to try and in that trying may you be PRESENT. Love yourself, Love your day, Love your life! Silvia
This is probably the most common breathing pattern in today's stress-filled society. Also known as paradoxical breathing, it is a natural reflex when we are suddenly startled or frightened. We gasp, pull the abdomen in and breathe high into the chest. The lift of the abdomen and pelvic floor prevents the diaphragm from descending completely as we inhale. Chest breathers restrict breath movement in the abdomen, forcing it higher up into the chest, while shoulders move up and down.
Effect on mind/body
Chest breathers rely on weak upper body muscles. Thereby developing chronic tension in thoracic spine, shoulders and neck. Moreover, this tension is resistant to massage or any other relaxation therapy as it recapitulates the moment the person resumes chest breathing, which is an incredible 22,000 times a day! Since we can't breathe in fully, we can't breathe out fully also. So we resort to breathing more quickly to make up for lack of oxygen. Scarier still is the fact that it sets the stage for an even more serious breathing problem: hyperventilation. Chest breathers normally sit on the edge of their seats and exude anticipation in their entire bearing. They never seem to have enough time to do all the tasks they set out on and often experience a chronic, free-floating state of anxiety. Scientific evidence now points to the connection between chest breathing, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. Observe the movement of both. If both your shoulders and chest are rising, you are probably not a chest breather. A chest breather suppresses breath in the lower abdomen, forcing it to move higher up into the body.
How to let go
Relax your shoulders and upper back. Consciously follow normal breathing pattern. Mentally assess yourself without judgement. Ground yourself in the present.
(If you want to explore deeper learnings join me on retreat, yoga vacation www.silviamordini.com or www.alchemytours.com)
DOES YOGA MAKE YOU SEXY?
SEPTEMBER 11, 2010 NEWSLETTER
Salutations Friends on the Path!
This week the hot yoga topic in some circles has been about the marketing of yoga to make you slim and sexy. My first concern as a yoga instructor is not so much about sexiness as it is teaching folks that yoga is really about the Science of Happiness. I know that with consistent, regular practice you will reconnect with what you're feeling, learn healthy stress-reducing techniques (like breathing on purpose), appreciate your life more and generally engage the world in a kinder way.
As yoga teacher Donna Farhi says, "What the world needs are kinder, more compassionate, generous people." The time on the mat is our opportunity to cleanse the mind of all its distractions that make us less attractive. And as I often say in class, the biggest obstacle to a happier life is our own busy mind, and yoga is for the mind (which we access through the vehicle of the body).
Does yoga make you sexy? Well I guess so. When we are feeling peaceful and centered our faces do look prettier. And when we are kinder and move more fluidly we are more attractive. And the yoga does slow us down to make more heartfelt connections to other people. So if you come to yoga for the mental or physical reasons it doesn't matter you are a complete package as a human being and you will receive ALL the benefits: happiness, sexiness, calm. And most importantly you will naturally engage more unconditional love into your life! So love yourself, love your day, love your life, Silvia
PS Don't forget sign up now for Moab Nov 4-7th, get $500 OFF and next person who registers gets FREE Private with me1
WHY PRACTICE YOGA? TO LET GO
AUGUST 24, 2009: I asked myself today these questions: Why practice yoga? What about practicing yoga today seemed like a good idea?
I want to share with you what I discovered. For me I come to the mat sometimes to celebrate, to do some deep thinking, to remember myself, to feel more…but really more often than not I come to the mat to LET GO.
I practice yoga to let go of the pain caused by someone hurting my feelings so I don’t consume myself with replaying them over and over. I let go of worry (everything from what the weather will be like for the Cubs game on Wednesday to how will the rest of my life turn out). I let go of worldly pressures, to decompress from stress. The practice helps me let go of the seriousness of meeting life’s challenges. I come to let go of the complexity of life. On the mat all we have to do is one pose at a time and breath while experiencing it. I come to let go of self-doubt and regain clarity.
What about practicing yoga seems like a good idea? I find my best self and let go of all those things that might cause me to lose sight of how important my life is and that the person who must appreciate it the most – is me.
In the Yoga Sutras Chapter talks about what we can do to maintain equanimity and inner joy. On the mat we let go & practice the following:
1.30 Perception of our true nature (joy, peace) is often obscured by physical, mental, and emotional imbalances.
1.31 These imbalances can promote restlessness, uneven breathing, worry and loss of hope.
1.32 These imbalances can be prevented from taking over our lives by consistently practicing yoga.
1.33 To preserve openness of heart and calmness of mind, nurture these attitudes:
· Kindness to those who are happy
· Compassion for those who are sick or struggling
· Honor and appreciation for those who we admire
· Equanimity to those whose actions oppose our values.
JULY 20TH, 2009: Why do I come to the mat each and every day? I return because I want to make and keep peace with who I am. I practice in the safety of class radical self-acceptance. Through that practice I stay present to life and what it is offering me breath to breath, email by email, thought to action to observation. We are all a work in progress but that awareness of letting ourselves be who we are is vital to positive mental, emotional and spiritual health.
Think about it you can come to class at any time without having to meet any single prerequisite. You just come as you are and the power and beauty of yoga embraces you. I can tell you during times of challenge the mat was the only place I felt like I could be myself. And I mean my real self (not the pretending we do for our neighbors, colleagues, even sometime our family members). Eckhart Tolle in the book A New Earth says it like this on page 184:
"Accepting means you allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling at that moment. It is part of the isness of the Now. You can't argue with what is. Well, you can, but if you do, you suffer."
Finding peace inside through compassionate self-acceptance is not that easy, but the thing is only when we find peace within can we become the kind of people who can live at peace with others. It is a straightforward spiritual law. You cannot offer to others what you don’t practice for yourself. If you don’t have peace you can’t make peace, if you don’t love yourself you can’t really love someone else, if you don’t fully accept how amazing you are, you WILL NEVER accept others. This is why when I’ve encountered the most critical or judgmental person I feel compassion for them because I know they are only treating me like that because they are first criticizing and belittling themselves. I don’t want that to be the way of energy exchange for any of us. This is why I want the world to practice yoga.
“Some people confuse acceptance with apathy, but there`s all the difference in the world. Apathy fails to distinguish between what can and what cannot be helped; acceptance makes that distinction. Apathy paralyzes the will-to-action; acceptance frees it.” Says Anne Covey
And perhaps the greatest misunderstanding of acceptance is that it is apathetic. This is not the case. Yoga is at its core learning how to accept ourselves in this moment not staying stuck in apologizing who were in the past or hyperventilating about who we might be in the future. As Fulton Oursler puts it, ‘Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves - regret for the past and fear of the future.” When we are allowing ourselves to accept our innate goodness we can learn how to ask ourselves better questions and to listen to the answers (i.e., What do I want? What do I feel? What do I need? How can I give myself what I need right now?) In other words we aren’t trying to fix ourselves as if we were broken we nourish ourselves with self-love. This leads to a sense of feeling light, freer and healthier. So today make the choice not to keep yourself in a prison of your own making through self-criticism and harsh self-judgement but instead as Rumi says, “only from the heart can you touch the sky!” Accept yourself, lover your day, love your life! Silvia
"You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge. But it can only emerge if something fundamental changes in your state of consciousness." - Page 13 Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
ACCEPTING SUPPORT: CAN YOU BE REACHED?
This support group we form for one another was made even more profound this afternoon. You may or may not know that the world lost a great peaceful warrior today. Sri Pattabhi Jois or Guruji as he was known to his students passed from his earthly body today. His life demonstrated to all what an amazing difference just a single person can make on mankind. The key message that I have taken from his teachings is: practice more. And if we practice more, we love more. (More about this Master Yogi, “Guruji, as he was fondly know all over the world, was one of Sri T Krishnamacharya's earlier students in
So today as we offer support around the world to the family of Sri Pattabhi Jois, we also recognize internally how important it is for each of us to feel supported. It is as Earon Davis says, “It takes community to maintain a human.” YES! Community, communion, compassion all of these and more that the practice teaches us through the vehicle of ourselves and trying to experience democracy and connection there first before taking it into relationship with others. One of my personal meditations I use is where I ask myself as much as I reach out to others, “can I be reached?” So I ask you, “CAN YOU BE REACHED?” How easily do you accept support from your breath, from the earth, from your healthy friends, from those that are trying to make your life easier? If its not so easy then come to the mat even more until you feel it possible within your body and heart and this will ignite the trust to accept support from others. Make Rumi’s words come to life! “Stay with friends who support you. Talk with them about sacred texts, and how you are doing, and how they are doing, and keep your practices together.”
Stay the course, love in all ways! Silvia
FOR THE LOVE OF KULA! (COMMUNITY)
JANUARY 5TH, 2009: What inspired today's practice is CONNECTION - COMMUNITY - COMPASSION!
I love practicing yoga with others! When I’m a student I will snuggle up my mat right next to the folks around me (I know you’re thinking, you probably like to talk to people on airplanes too). Yes, you’d be right, I do! Without apology I enjoy making connections. It feels like to be the most compassionate act we can take is to get along. And when we’re in class practicing something as straightforward as a sun salutation it gives me great hope for all mankind that we can get along and sync our energies in other ways too.
Einstein said it like this, “A human being is a part of a whole, called by us 'universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us. Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”
Now on the mat the connecting vinyasa in the sun salutation is what my teacher Shiva Rea calls, the “Basic Vinyasa”. If we were cooking a meal together at some points we’d have to mix ingredients together. The Basic vinyasa, or connecting vinyasa, is that mixing. Also when preparing a yummy meal we’d have to let some stuff marinate or simmer to let the juices of flavors come together. That’s exactly like when we hold poses and really settle into them. You see each class serves a full multi-coursed meal. And our job as students is to taste each course but then make personal decisions about what we choose to indulge in a little more. You have to trust yourself and the connection within the community of your own body as to what parts of the class, or meal, make sense for you to have more of and when to say ok that’s plenty.
Finally when we lie down in Savasana we can both reflect energetically on how great the meal was, what good choices we made and then just BE with ourselves as we are so we can contemplate the deliciousness of coming together in community for the next meal or practice! I embrace all of you with my heart I consider you all my family and I just wanted you to really know that. Thank you for spending time with me in fellowship, in Kula (community) I am forever grateful, Silvia
EVERYONE NEEDS COMFORT
SEPTEMBER 11TH, 2008:
AUGUST 7TH, 2008: Generosity in yoga is really an interesting learning. To be generous asks that we be open but with a really focused effort. In our Western world we get caught up with the idea of doing more for the sake of more, this more is better idea (even if quality perishes). In the corporate world I used to rage against the machine when it came to an ever increasing aspiration towards mediocrity instead of excellence like when I first entered the workforce 15+ years ago.
However in yoga if felt like I was coming home, how generosity meant a conscious action of doing more but in the RIGHT WAY. QUALITY VERSUS QUANTITY, you know? Giving what is needed when it is needed rather than just what makes us feel good. We recently had our community give to the Iowa Anusara studio that flooded out and I honor the studio owner that set forth for us what they actually needed most so we could then be the MOST generous. I love that! Thank you for setting the example. May we all find ways to take that first step. How can you be more generous with yourself today? As I often say at the end of class: as much as I want this practice to be everything you want it to be I hope more that it be everything you NEEDED it to be. Peace. Silvia