Mantra for March
By Laura Mills
Gloves, hats, and scarves in March? Maybe…but so late in March? With spring’s arrival, spring break approaching, and Passover and Easter right around the corner, the extra-frosty air and brutal wind seem quite out of place. Sure, we had a stretch of really mild weather back in December when we expected cold…now that the weather is “supposed” to be warming up, though, the cold just doesn’t seem to want to leave.
But yogis, take heart! 2013’s weather so far has much to teach us. The lingering cold invites us to continue our practice beyond our mats, as unexpected challenges like this lead us—if we’re open and accepting—into new ways of approaching life, into places where we need to return to our breath and revisit our intentions. We slow down, look inside ourselves, and observe what’s there at the present moment. Meanwhile, the spring kept at bay invites us to step up our practice of patience. Not the strained patience of a parent or teacher begging Mother Nature to ease up so the kids can play outside, but rather the patience of a seed just under the earth, frozen, dormant, waiting for the perfect moment. This is a patience that reaches deep beyond the choice of how to respond; it reaches into the realm of following nature’s cues, of letting nature lead. To the seed, when it’s time, it’s time.
Remember that, no matter how we perceive our weather and its changes, winter never just gives up and spring never just takes over from there. Instead, winter flows away, and spring flows in. Any given year—when it’s time, it’s time. The planet breathes and moves in a practice all its own; no matter how long it holds any pose, it always encourages us to join in.
One Hour Less...Of What?
By Laura Mills
The anticipation of “springing forward” was very stressful for me. Just prior to changing my clocks I have always felt rushed and tired, as my to-do list always looks longer than usual and I can never stop thinking about that hour’s loss of sleep. In addition, as a new parent this year, I was terribly concerned about the time change’s immediate effects on my daughter’s sleep schedule. I felt bleak and unsettled even as the world was getting lighter and coming together....
At times like this I believe what helps is focus on extension, the idea that in order to get past unsettledness we must extend like never before—but NOT by adding to the to-do list or working extra hard to cram everything in. Instead, extension in this context means approaching a situation with a more open attitude. Maybe it involves actually removing something from the to-do list, or tossing that particular list altogether…or else maybe it means adding in a bit of impromptu rest. Maybe extension means breathing better, not necessarily bigger or deeper, but only with more focus. Maybe it involves seeking something unique in the “same-old” Child’s Pose or Downward Facing Dog. Maybe extension means just approaching the day not as one hour shorter, for example, but as 23 hours more of opportunity.
Like the practice of asanas, extension of this kind requires dedication and patience…the fruits of which are balance and peace. It’s off-the-mat yoga of the highest order as we suspend resistance and instead just flow, realizing that 23 hours is still a lot of time to make the moments count.
By Laura Mills
Earlier this week I attended one of TBY's Restorative Yoga classes. I don't often practice Restorative, but this particular day I happened to be at the studio at just the right time. I love how I feel after a Restorative class, and I know I would definitely benefit from more frequent practice of it. But given a choice between Restorative Yoga and a more-quickly-moving Vinyasa flow, I opt for Vinyasa most of the time. As someone who can barely sit still even when tired, the thought of holding any pose longer than a few breaths doesn't thrill me and the thought of practicing supported, long-held poses for an hour or more actually intimidates me quite a bit.
But I suppose this is just where an opportunity for real yoga arises, since Restorative Yoga invites me to nudge myself just outside my well-established comfort zone. It asks me to open a little bit more than usual, both physically and mentally, and to balance my own practice with a style that soothes in an entirely different way. Yoga as whole is, after all, all about openness and balance, and the way I feel after a Restorative class shows me Iím on the right track.
IN THE WORDS OF A TEACHER TRAINEE JULIA JONSON COHN TELLS ALL HUMILITY, OPENNESS, GRATITUDE
Humility, Openness, Gratitude
By Julia Jonson Cohn
April 8, 2011. Teacher training is over. On our final day together I thought the room would be filled with tears… but instead there was a calm happiness. A knowing that even though this leg of the journey had come to an end, we were about to experience another new beginning. When I signed up for this program, I thought my biggest lessons would be learning the best ways to teach alignment in poses and then putting them together in really smart sequences. I did learn all about that, but there was so much more. I’ve always understood that yoga balances energy in the body/mind… but now I am directly in touch with my spirit as a result of this experience.
The three qualities that I feel now embody my personal mission statement for teaching are these:
1. Humility. I consider it the highest honor to be one who shares the wisdom of this ancient practice of yoga. I am aware that the participants who step into any class I might be conducting are going to be my greatest teachers. And they already have! I also know that being a non-judging observer of life will not only help me to deepen my own practice, but will help me connect more deeply with those who seek me out for class.
2. Openness. The world seems much less complicated and things more clear now that I have connected with the essence of who I am. I have gained the ability to be much more empathetic with all people… even those who I used to view as the biggest obstacles to my own happiness. Now I know my happiness and peacefulness only depends on me… and not losing my connection to my Self. I pledge to convey this awareness to others and share my personal experiences with students.
3. Gratitude. Being grateful for everything that happens is far from an easy practice. I really do view every tough time and every good time as an opportunity for growth because I am thankful for my life. I used to walk around with a “why me” attitude, but now I think why not me… Every hardship has helped me grow in leaps and bounds. I’m not to the point of saying “bring it on.” However, embracing the dark and the light the ups and downs has certainly gotten easier.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to my teachers Silvia and Rachel. You probably don’t even know the scope of how you have changed my life (and certainly many others) forever. Thank you to my fellow students. It was no coincidence the Universe brought us together. This is not the end. I love you all.