Fourth Toe Blues
By Laura Mills
Since I started practicing yoga I’ve developed a keen appreciation for parts of me that I never thought much about before: the muscles between my ribs, for example, and the joint between my palm and first finger. Recently, I discovered the importance of the fourth toe on my right foot.
It happened when I opened a heavy door into my foot. Since I was barefoot, and with the way I was standing at the time, the door scraped the top of that particular toe. It wasn’t a huge injury; a few extra minutes and paper towels later, I thought the ordeal over. But I attended a yoga class the next day, and I winced the first time I breathed forward from Downward Dog into Plank. Other than not clenching my toes, I’ve never thought much about them during a yoga practice…but that day I started. In fact, I thought about my fourth toe every Plank, every Upward Dog-into-Downward Dog, pretty much throughout every Vinyasa. And I thought about it every time I stepped my right foot back to a lunge. And of course, I thought about it as it throbbed all during Savasana, too.
We talk a lot in yoga about honoring ourselves and awakening the divine within. Sometimes I have a hard time seeing anything about myself as divine, but on this occasion, my toe reminded me not to forget it.
By Laura Mills
My adulthood so far has consisted of two phases: “Before Yoga” and “With Yoga.” In the first phase I worked a fine job and maintained my home life and body in the way I thought best for me. The plan worked, for a while, but by my late-twenties I had wedged myself into a meltdown between grief and confusion. In its midst, yoga seemed like something worth trying…and thus began the second phase. Since then, I’ve learned what changes to make and how to make them, as well as how to coexist with all aspects of my life (even those that didn’t turn out the way I originally wanted). I’ve also learned to honor myself ALWAYS as a unique and beautiful being.
Whether or not a yogi’s story involves major life alterations, at some level the practice changes all of us. Even if we only try yoga because it looks fun, or we want to someday balance on our hands, the practice leaves us in a place different from the one in which we began. I consider all the yogi stories I’ve heard since I started my own practice: among many others, stories involving stress reduction and recovery from tragedy or illness; stories of yoga as a hobby, as cross-training for other sports, as a component of an overall fitness program; stories about yoga feeling good, teaching people about themselves, and enabling them to meet their spirituality. I love yogi stories. To me they represent the tremendous spectrum of human experience and the fact that, no matter who we are or where we come from, we all revolve around the same amazing center.
TRUST, UNCONDITIONAL GRATITUDE AND LETTING LOVE IN
April 9, 2011. "If I knew that everything I believed and more was true-I'd wake up and let life take me as its own." 9:30am and 12pm at hauteyoga Queen Anne focused on Trust, Unconditional Gratitude and Letting Love in. Danna Faulds goes on to write, "I'd welcome whatever came next and know that love could change me forever if I let it." I have a confession to make, I have trust issues. One example started when I was run over by a car as a pedestrian over 10 years ago. Since that point whenever I'm walking I still feel my breath tighten and my skin constrict as I get ready to walk across the street. The fact of the matter is that when I was involved in this hit and run accident (as the one that was hit) I was a step away from the curb on the other side of the street. I saw the car coming on a sunny Sunday morning. And I didn't feel afraid because there was no way they would drive on the WRONG side of the street and hit me. I was so close.
Anyhow, the reality of the matter is that the car did cross over. And ever since I work on trusting that even if I have the right away as a pedestrian that the car will stop for me. Living in Seattle has brought me great healing towards rebuilding my trust because the law and the culture here are pedestrian, cyclist friendly. Even if a car has been stopped at a stop sign and you start walking they still give you the right to walk safely. And everyday I heal this trust issue I have between cars and people a little bit more. But its not easy and I still have to remember to keep breathing through the mental inconvenience of changing my thought patterns and old belief. In any spiritual practice we all have to make the choice to trust in what is important to us and believing in something doesn't make it easy.
Pema Chodran writes, “when you hear some teachings that ring true to you and feel some trust in its being a worthwhile way to live then you’re in for a lot inconvenience. From an everyday perspective it seems good to do things that are kind of convenient; there is no problem with that. It’s just that when you really start to take the warrior’s journey – which is to say, when you start to want to live your LIFE FULLY, when you begin to feel this passion for life and for growth – then basically, it you follow your heart, you’re going to find that it’s often extremely inconvenient.”
"If I knew that everything I believed and more was true...." So what it is that you trust as true? If you've had your heart broken will you take the steps to try again even though putting yourself out there is inconvenient? If you've attempted an arm balance and it didn't work the way you thought it would can you reestablish trust in the Earth to hold you up? Today find something you trust, even if it as fundamental as air and earth and from there keep expanding your circle of trust. "Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back-- Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too." - GOETHE
When trust is difficult I practice Unconditional Gratitude inspired by the book BE HAPPY by William Holden who defines Unconditional Gratitude as follows:
- "Gratitude based on a faith that everything that happens or doesn’t happen in your life is for your own best interests. That we live in a purposeful universe. Life is always for you; it is never against you. It is a fact that blessings sometimes come wrapped in fear, pain, and tears. In choosing to practice unconditional gratitude you are choosing to trust the process, to honor your feelings and to place your faith in an outcome of inevitable grace."
And why bother healing the trust issues we develop in life? Because if keep constricting through mistrust then love can't come in. Either we trust everyone and everything that happens to us whether difficult or easy or we don't trust anything. We either trust the process and believe the universe knows what it's doing or we trust nothing. Learning to trust and when necessary rebuilding trust opens our hearts and allows love in. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
LIVE AN HONORABLE LIFE
OCTOBER 31, 2010. During some Yoga class you will hear these words from your teacher, "honor your body" or "honor yourself." But what does that mean exactly? When I went to military school during high school years I had a very well-defined idea of honor because of the honor code that was part of the school's commitments. Then in college I was in a sorority and we too made a serious pledge to an honor code of sisterhood.
As we mature no one is giving us a written honor code and we have to define and refine it for ourselves. Time on the mat is where I practice honoring what I think and feel and how my actions are a result of that. Do I make sensitive adjustments? Am I respectful of myself when I'm tired? How do I appreciate and thank myself for trying my best? Am I consistent in integrating the practice in my body? Am I reverential towards the blessing it is to move and breath? Come to think of it, isn't to honor part of what Namaste means? So when it comes down to it, am I living my Namaste? And in honoring myself and do I honor, respect, appreciate all those I meet? If you are practicing yoga you are holding yourself gently and aspiring to live an honorable life. You are Dignified and Noble. Bring that today as you love yourself, love your day, love your life, Silvia
"Though it may be difficult to find the words for what you feel,
May you find ease in that awkwardness until gradually from beneath the gravel of stuttered sounds the pure flow of you emerges.
Be gentle with yourself,
Learn to integrate the negative,
Harnessing its force
To cross the boundaries
That would confine you.
Love the life of your mind
Furnishing it ever with new thought
So that your countenance glows
With the joy of being alive.
And true to an inner honor
That will not allow
Anger or resentment
To make you captive
Always have the courage
To change, welcoming those voices
That call you beyond yourself
Beyond your work and action
Remain faithful to your heart,
For you to deepen and grow
Into a person of dignity and nobility."
By John Donohue
CAN YOU LIVE YOUR NAMASTE - WHY ALL YOGA IS GOOD
Namaste Beautiful Friends,
I was with Kishan Shah recently, Ayurvedic doctor living in Southern California and he said 'We must Namaste everyone." Yes! I love that. I get it as I believe in my heart fundamentally we are all the same. And as such deserve the same respect, honor and love. So what does Namaste mean? Well, "Nama" means bow, "as" means I, and "te" means you. Therefore, Namaste literally means "bow me you" or "I bow to you." It is a gesture of pure compassion and recognition. That we bow to the true self inside each one of us. Of course there are many interpretations of Namaste including: I see and celebrate the Love that you are.; The Light in me recognizes the Light in You; I honor the light and love within you; I greet that place where you and I are one.; I see and honor in you the place where the universe resides.; When you are at that place in you, and I am at that place in me, we are One.
So in effect if we are living our NAMASTE we are unlocking the love in our own hearts to include everyone. To see not that which divides us but that which brings us together. To me this is why ALL yoga is good. This is the whole point of yoga.
So there is no need to put down another person's yoga. If a teacher says to you they teach the "only" real yoga is this opening or closing one's heart? If a teacher says they know everything, well the reality is that no one knows everything. In the words of Michelangelo at the age of 75 "we are all still learning." (Ancora imparo) To live our Namaste means we see the good, the universal in all yoga. And since we as students and teachers of this practice are all but babies on the path we should embrace one another. The Yoga Sutras teach that a root cause of suffering is separation and isolation but connectedness (yoga "union") removes the veils of separation so we can be in that place where we are One. One World, One Heart.
If we are to come together united in this world during our lifetime we must Live Our Namaste. We can do that by seeing the good in ALL yoga whether it's a set sequence, hot yoga, power yoga, yin yoga, restorative yoga, warehouse yoga, Anusara yoga, acro-yoga or Vinyasa Yoga. Namaste it ALL and you'll change the world!
In the words of Manitongquot, "Oh humankind, do we not all want to love and be loved, to work and to play, to sing and dance together? Love is life - creation, seed and leaf and blossom and fruit and seed, love is growth and search and reach and touch and dance. Love is nurture and pleasure,
Love is life believing in itself.
And life is singing to itself, dancing to its drum, improvising, playing and we are all that Spirit, our stories all but ONE COSMIC STORY that we are love indeed. That perfect love in me seeks the love in you and if our eyes could ever meet without fear, we would recognize each other and rejoice, for love is life believing in itself."
And in case you're wondering, I practice all forms of yoga. I like it hot, strong, easeful, gentle, athletic, fun, creative, precise, elegant and even a bit silly. The more yoga I love the more love that grows inside me, and the more I love everyone. With a heartfelt, humble Namaste to you all...please love in all ways! Silvia
NAMASTE: TO HONOR, APPRECIATE, REMEMBER
JULY 21ST, 2009: This class tonight is dedicated to our friend John Palmer whose participation in sailing team Intangible contributed greatly to their first place finish this weekend!
So we focus on Namaste, Nama, Namaha and all its variations to honor John’s accomplishment and use of yogic breathing and meditation as handy tools when needed most. To me Namaha is a remembrance and appreciation first and foremost. Voltaire said, “Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” So John’s success is our success. Instead of seeking separation Namaste brings us into Yoga or union as one world, one people. We honor the sacredness of all.
Namaste is a blessing. It strikes the perfect chord. Having grown up in a musical family and having played piano and clarinet for 13 years I have always felt music was a blessing. Yoga like being in a chorus or a band or any sort of tribe helps us to work together as a beautiful symphony. We feel this symphony of the body when we practice poses (asanas). And just like playing a musical instrument the more yoga you practice the more efficient you get. Over time you feel the harmonies. No single player more important but everyone equally important. This is a nondualistic view of life. Where we acknowledge that everyone is valuable in their own way, that we all contribute to make wonderful music. This is why I always say in class you are like family to me. I see us as co-creating something amazing each time we come together. Just like in scriptures, “The diversity of the family should be a cause of love and harmony, as it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord.”
Namaste is a remembrance. Wolfgang Von Goethe writes, “Remembrance of what is good keeps us high in spirit. Remembrance of what is beautiful is the salvation of the mortal man. Remembrance of what is dear will be happiness, if it remains alive.” So we unite our hands or think to ourselves Namaste and remember how amazing life is. It is a respect for our breath, for life itself. When we share this with another we are saying that WE ARE ONE. That we are all love and truth, freedom and strength, light and peace. So to each of you from my heart, Namaste! Love and serve all ways, all days, Silvia
Namaste - The ancient Sanskrit blessing defined
We can perceive the unique thread that connects us all with the Universe, and all its Beings along with the source of that interconnection. Accepting Oneness, we are accordingly receptive to knowledge that comes to us in the form of examples, advice, and direct teaching. One may awake to the wisdom that opens our eyes to new worlds of possibilities.
When we assume everyone we meet is special and unique in its essence we should always show to all people the same generous level of kindness, care, compassion, and understanding without any thoughts of self-interest or ulterior motives above paying respects wholeheartedly, the way we live our daily lives has an enormous impact on those around us.
Instead of clinging to what separates us, Practicing Namaste enables us to feel less alone in the world. We begin to understand that we must treat all people for what they are, family. We are one with the cosmos whether we realize it or not. Practicing ONENESS we gain consciousness of the more subtle aspects of our being, with the ultimate outcome being a complete identification with the light body.
May all beings find and hold happiness. May they all be free from suffering and sickness. May we all look in the mirror see all others reflecting back. May we be all with one, living in oneness, one family, one heart, a glowing heart of the brightest light of compassion. NAMASTE
From Wikipedia, freely adapted and edited http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Namaste