EMPOWERMENT BY GUEST BLOGGER MARA CAMPBELL
Have you ever thought in class or in life, "no I can't do this...this is too hard.. I am too old...my hamstrings are too tight..etc?" I know I have, especially when a yoga teacher makes something look so easy when I find it so hard. But my thoughts can either hinder or help my ability to move forward in my practice. I've realized the worst thing I can do is to not try. Please join me tomorrow when we will dive into ourselves to uncover our own power and potential through some core cultivation. Oh no, I just lost some of you...no this doesn't mean crunches...it means cultivating a connection to our source, enjoying our power all the while with a calm mind and open heart. It is through the trying, the laughing, and the believing in ourselves that our practice deepens in our bodies, minds and hearts.
In specific, we'll talk about Yoga Sutra 11.33: When presented with disquieting thoughts or feelings, cultivate an opposite, elevated attitude. I think about this sutra often when I find myself experiencing frustration, irritation and anxiety, on and off the mat. No longer can I tell myself that it is the situation at hand that is causing me to feel the way I feel. I now know that it is my reactions to life that are creating my experience. This sutra is telling us to cultivate feelings and actions that fill our hearts to combat the times we feel off. So when we experience frustration, this sutra is suggesting we try to focus on ease. If we are tied up in fear, we can elicit courage. And if we are filled with anger, the answer is always to fill with love. This is not to deny our feelings but to remember that we have the ability to change our attitude. This is what tantra philosophy is all about: EMPOWERMENT!
So whether you feel fantastic and want to celebrate your power or if you need a little action and empowerment to remember your own unlimited potential, please come join me for class tomorrow. Level 1 at 11:00 and Basics at 12:30. Also wonderful David Romanelli is back for a weekend of yoga fun at 4:30 on Saturday, all levels.
**Don't forget your October Special: Refer anyone new to TBY and they can receive 30 days unlimited yoga for $30 and YOU get entered into raffle for 2 months of Unlimited Yoga!
HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM GUEST BLOGGER MARA CAMPBELL
January 11th, 2010:
Dear Basics Students,
Happy New Year! I want to formally invite you to Wednesday Basics classes at Total Body Yoga with me at 10:45am or 7:30pm!
Personally, my new year started out a bit rocky as a sinus infection and double ear infection came to my body. I tried hard to kick it by myself and as I trudged to the doctor's on Friday, I felt badly that I needed help. But perhaps this was the lesson I needed to learn. We all need help sometimes. The holidays is a time of giving but also receiving and could I gracefully receive the wisdom that my body was telling me, even if I didn't want to listen? I was reminded of this sweet idea at Family Yoga with Mary Saturday night where we "helped" each other lift into side plank. Oh, so much easier and sweet when someone gently lifted my hips! Finally, one last reminder at a therapeutics training yesterday where Noah Maze helped me with a hip pop that I've had my entire life. 5 minutes with him and it completely went away! So I need to remember these reminders when my pride gets in the way saying "I can do this alone! I don't need anyone!" It's our true nature to be connected to one another and to make things easier and sweeter for one another not harder.
So connect with me and other yogis this Wednesday! To help make our poses a little easier and less painful in the upper body, we will be examining the 5 arm positions and correct shoulder alignment in:
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing dog)
Parsvakonasana (Side-angle pose)
Correct alignment in the shoulders and the torso can make our poses so much more light and comfortable. Yoga doesn't have to be painful in wrists, elbows, neck or shoulders (or really anywhere!). There is never the need to "push through the pain." Pain is our body telling us where we are out of alignment and where we need some shifts in the body. So please don't be shy to ask in class when something doesn't feel right. When we learn correct alignment of the upper body, we have more freedom and grace in the poses so that we can shine out to express our own unique spirit!
Hope to see you on the mat this Wednesday!
With gratitude, Mara
BLISS, JOY AND LOVE ARE OUR TRUE NATURE BY GUEST BLOGGER MARA CAMPBELL
Children continually remind me of the belief in Tantra philosophy that our true nature is joy, bliss, ananda, and love. I think we all know this deep down but kids have a more carefree attitude of "let's go for it right now! " that helps me see this bliss on a daily basis. One of my favorite lines of the Anusara invocation is: Saccidananda (Sat-Chit-Ananda) Murtaye, which reminds us that all truth and consciousness are essentially joy and love, which are expressed in the forms of all living things. Snow and ice really can be beautiful is you look at them like kids do. Winter is an expression of the divine on this earth, no more or less beautiful than a crystal blue sky over a white sandy beach. Yoga helps us to see this common thread of beauty in the world, in others and in ourselves regardless of our circumstances.
As Elizabeth Gilbert says in Eat, Pray, Love, "You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight." Happiness and bliss is our birthright and you see this in kids on a regular basis. For me, it is yoga that helps me tap into the beauty, the goodness of life. As I relax onto my mat and turn inward, I come back home to my true nature and let go of the fight, the drama or the harshness I have built up around me. I soften, I smile, I am changed.
Tonight the snow is falling harder....the kids are back outside. They have come in twice to put their outerwear in the dryer and then as fast a lightning, they are back out building, sliding, running and being joy. Think I will join them. Sometimes it's best to follow their lead!
May your holidays be filled with lots and lots of joy and peace. As my grandmother recently said to me, "relax into the season." Mara
RESPONSE-ABILITY BY GUEST BLOGGER MARA CAMPBELL
Our bodies never lie and don't care about appearances and false pretenses. When we take the time to listen to the body's wisdom through yoga and meditation we begin to act with "response-ability" instead of quick reactions to life brought out from our emotions and thoughts. We learn the ability of when to quiet, when to soften, when to listen, when to let go and when to speak. So if you feel your emotions a little on overdrive this week, know that you are not alone and that your body is there patiently waiting for you to listen to it's wisdom. Your mind is wonderful but know that you also have your body patiently waiting for you to connect with it, so it can guide you to sweet responses to life. Hope to see you on the mat soon as we let go of our minds for a bit and listen to bodies with great music and getting into the flow of life.
"I will always have fear, but I need not be my fear for I have other places within myself from which to speak or act." ~Parker Palmer
May your holidays be filled with joy, laughter and love. Blessings to you and your family, Mara
GETTING OFF THE HAMSTER WHEEL
SELF-ACCEPTANCE BY GUEST BLOGGER MARA CAMPBELL
BREAKFAST FOR THE MIND: GUEST BLOGGER MARA CAMPBELL
OCTOBER 21, 2009: I am pretty good at eating a good breakfast each morning as I know it sets the stage for the day for me as nutrition for my body. But what am I feeding my mind each morning? Well I began to think about this last night as I am rereading, Peace is Every Step, by Thich Nhat Hanh, one of my all time favorite books. He encourages us to wake up each morning excited that we have the gift of a new day. Now I know this in my head and I do try to say a prayer and tap into my blessings each morning, but by nature, I am just not a morning person. I do not wake up feeling refreshed, limber or ready to bring peace and joy into the world. In fact, I can be a bit of a grump....can any of you relate?! So how do I cultivate that peaceful gratitude that Thich Nhat Hanh says is imperative to start our day with? Well, yoga has taught me we have choices, options and the ability to create the life we desire. Or as Thich Nhat Hanh writes, "We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others."
LIFE IS THE DANCER, YOU ARE THE DANCE: GUEST BLOGGER MARA CAMPBELL
OCTOBER 14, 2009: As I taught a yoga class this morning, I so wanted to give the class a long, peaceful savasana. Then the banging and the yelling of the workers next door started... and then the music....and then...my breath started to get shallow and my body tight....and oh yes there it is: I am frustrated. Why couldn't they just quiet down a bit?! And then..release...a hint of laughter.....this was actually pretty funny. For as much as I want to control what happens, as much as I've prepared my class, as much as I have the perfect temperature in the room: what happens in a class is largely out my control whether I like it or not.
For me, I connect this idea of surrendering with Aparigraha, the Yama (or ethical restraints), that invites us to let go of false truths, fears and old beliefs. Letting go of control, doesn't mean we are apathetic, lazy, or don't have intentions in our lives. It simply means that we humbly know that we don't have control of the universe and we consciously decide to join the flow of life instead of trying to fight it. I vividly remember when someone told me, "Life is the dancer and we are the dance." This made no sense to me as I saw myself as the dancer, the doer, the controller. How come we aren't the dancer?! This bothered me for some time until it finally sunk in one yoga practice where I completely surrendered and simply allowed myself to be carried away. I left that class with more energy than I had in weeks and I finally got that I simply just needed to stop trying so hard. We do what we can, we work hard, we love hard but in the end, we surrender and witness the universe's lovely mysterious ways.
"Most of our energy goes into upholding our importance. If we were capable of losing some of that importance, two extraordinary things would happen to us. One, we would free our energy from trying to maintain the illusory idea of our grandeur; and two, we would provide ourselves with enough energy to catch a glimpse of the actual grandeur of the universe." -Carlos Casteneda
GROWING UP: GUEST BLOGGER MARA CAMPBELL
OCTOBER 7, 2009: COURTESY OF GUEST BLOGGER MARA CAMPBELL. THIS WILL BE HER THEME FOR WEDNESDAY'S CLASSES. She writes, "Many of my friends and I are turning 40 soon and I am thinking a lot about what it means to "grow up." Not in the sense that I need to get my haircut, use reading glasses and wear sensible shoes. And I don't mean becoming ultra serious about everything and loosing the fun and innocence of life. But what I mean is a spiritual growing up. Growing up to feel more at home with myself and knowing I am bringing my very best self to my friends, family and the world as much as I can.
Lately, it seems the energy of people I know is low as the weather has turned cool and rainy. You can literally feel the heaviness in folks. I feel it too in my body and more importantly in my heart. My usual mode is to over analyze by trying to figure out the why I feel the way I do or trying to "process" my feelings. My mind wants to figure it out, make a plan to fix it and oh, maybe get a book on it!
But lately, I've had a new idea. Maybe what I need is to light my own fire both in my body and my heart with more action and less thoughts. For my body, it means yoga. It means getting out the mat and the meditation cushion even when I don't want to. And for lighting my heart...well it means I need to love even when I don't want to. I need to look at my dog, my spouse or my children and tap into the love I have for them and they have for me and remember how good this feels.
Rolf Gates says, "The aim of spiritual practice is to deliberately cultivate insight and to instill in ourselves the strength we need for courageous action. Dhyana is the place where action and insight become one." Dhyana is one of the 8 limbs of yoga and is typically translated as meditation or stillness. It is from this centered place where we begin to see ourselves a little more clearly, recognizing our childlike patterns (not judging them or beating ourselves up for them!) and begin to make decisions for our own spiritual growth. We all need to be our own good mommies and daddies....only you know what you need best and what will truly feed you and your own spiritual growth.
So please join me this week as I will lead you in a heart meditation to help us all tap into our hearts and the love that is all around us. I promise you it is there. Sometimes we just need to get ourselves and our over zealous minds out of the way. When we know what we have to do for ourselves, our families, and our world, and we do it, even if it is not convenient or easy,....well that for me is growing up. And the funny thing is....I feel lighter when I act from this place....more like a child!"