By Laura Mills
Right now I am sitting at my kitchen table in front of my computer, having just finished my cereal, drinking coffee, listening to classical music. The patio door is open and I’m looking into my yard, and I’m hearing the chirps of crickets and birds. Of course, not every moment of my life is this easily sweet; just this morning before breakfast I dusted the living room, swept the kitchen, and fed and cleaned up after my cats. Soon enough, I’ll head back upstairs to get ready for work. But right now, in this moment, I am exactly where I want to be.
We all experience snippets of life like this in which the immediate circumstances just seem right. We are content to breathe and feel and be without immediately moving on to something else. We think, “Ah, so THIS is happiness.” Our challenge, I believe, as I discuss so often with other yogis, is to nurture the contentment of these moments and apply it to the times when life isn’t so accommodating. Our yoga practices help; with yoga, we encourage our bodies, minds and spirits towards lasting and perfectly balanced peace.
But in the meantime, we relish the peace that comes easily. We sigh, take a deep breath, and give thanks.
WHAT DO YOU SAY YES TO?
NOVEMBER 20, 2010. What do you say YES to? Are you conscious and alert to your Yes choices? Do you say Yes more than you say No? Or do you just pick the stuff that is the most convenient?
We are in many ways organisms of convenience so what Pema Chodran writes hits home, “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, when discovery and exploration and curiosity become your path – then basically, it you follow your heart, you’re going to find that it’s often extremely inconvenient.”
"There is only one way to learn," the alchemist answered. "It's through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey." (The Alchemist To Santiago.) In Tantric philosophy we start with "yes". It is our first response. We say yes to opening, softening, receiving and...
YES IS DOING!
Take to heart this blessing: "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." Wayne Gretzky is so right on. Doing something is the Yes. And when you decide you are clear on what you say YES to, then everything is there to support you. It is as is written in the Alchemist "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." At the end of the day what you say YES to isn't even as important as just doing something, saying YES is your commitment to living the moment full blast! Love yourself, love your day, love your life, Silvia
Join me on retreat www.alchemytours.com or 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)
SENSE OF ADVENTURE INTO EVERY MOMENT BY GUEST BLOGGER CHRISTINE STOCK
I am back from Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon with a new spark to live life to the fullest, and to bring a sense of adventure into every moment. Adventure is the willingness to commit to an uncertain outcome with an open heart & open mind. It's the ability to take a leap into the unknown with mindfulness and grace. It's the ability to think big about who you are, how you live, and what you can do in the world, whether it's climbing to the ridge of the Grand Canyon, putting all your $ on red, or flowing through asanas. Please come on an adventure with me tomorrow at 9:15 am. I will have a new playlist from The Beatles to Barry Manilow :)
Life is uncertain! Being adventurous means seeing that uncertainty as the gift of possibility!
Peace & Namaste,
*Don't forget this month refer a friend and they get 30 days unlimited yoga for $30!! And you get entered to win 2 FREE months of yoga
WHAT IS REAL WHO HAS IT EASIER THAN YOU?
CYCLES OF LIFE BY GUEST BLOGGER MARA CAMPBELL
The thing that inspires me about this succession of life is that it never ends. After every ending, there is a new beginning. For instance, when a bone breaks, some of the cells will die but the bone will quickly start regenerating and will actually seek out similar cells to mend. Then the place where it was broken but has come together now becomes the strongest part of the bone! It is the death, that allows the rebirth of a stronger, transformed body. Another example is the prairie, where the burning of fire is necessary to release the seeds that are captured in strong shells.
Shiva, the destroyer is celebrated in Hindu mythology as much as Bhrama, the creator, or Vishnu, the sustainer, since they are connected in a constant loop of life and death and rebirth. A study on longevity found a common thread among those who live long is their ability to endure loss. This shows me it is not the losses that define us but rather how quickly we recover our emotional equilibrium after difficulties and allow the healing cycle to take place.
The inspiration for me comes when we remember this succession of life as we live our yoga. When we are in a challenging situation in life, do we cling to the drama, rehashing it over and over, staying stuck in past and future? We can actually get in the way of nature's cycle by not loosening our grip on our difficulties. I know I do this as I over analyze my life, trying to figure out my next steps or trying to understand the why things happened the way they did. Yet, the gift of the present moment is constantly moving, with or without my connection with it.
So we practice this on the mat; we present each other with challenges to learn about ourselves and practice the art of staying calm, centered and connected to the present moment. Our breath is there to help us on this journey and we practiced 4-part breath. We moved in circles to remind the brain that life is not a linear race but rather a series of cycles that expand and contract as we live our days.
As Rolf Gates states, We wake up, we are stiff, we are fatigued, our minds wander, we come to the mat, we forget, we loosen up, we relax, we have energy, we remember, we live, we sleep, we wake up, we are stiff, etc.
I hope to see you soon on the mat where we will continue to connect with our unique current moments within the cycles of life. Much peace, Mara
FREEDOM AND NO REGRETS
Happy 4th of July Weekend! At the beginning of July I’ve always had this feeling of making a fresh start or new beginning - like we are on the threshold of something greater. Maybe I feel like this because it is my birth month and our birthday’s are like our own new year’s eve or maybe because we’re exactly halfway through the year. I’m not sure really. I just know that I intuitively want to think about the choices I’m making. I use this time to face my fears and celebrate my accomplishments. In the Alchemist it says “It was my fear of failure that first kept me from attempting the master work. Now, I'm beginning what I could have started ten years ago. But I'm happy at least that I didn't wait twenty years.” The important part is to begin again, just get started and take a small step. None of us are being asked to jump off a cliff, this is a practice of millimeters that eventually builds quiet momentum.
As you breath and enjoy this holiday weekend make time to set an expectation for your life this next half of the year. Are you on the right path so far? And whatever you decide just know we are all evolving in the direction of happiness. It is our right. Freedom and the pursuit of happiness is your destiny! It is like what’s written in the Alchemist, “Making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.” And when you need time to reflect on where you’ve been and where you want to go join me on the mat where you’ll always discover you have the power, the heart and the energy to achieve anything you want! Love the day, love your life! Silvia