To Yoga or Not To Yoga
By Laura Mills
“Like a kid at the beginning of a new school year,” I told my friend, describing myself the night before my return to teaching after a two-month leave. “I double- and triple-checked my yoga bag and worried about how out-of-shape I felt. I’d barely done any yoga since April.”
When I thought about it later, though, I wondered…. True, during my leave I hadn’t practiced asana more than a handful of times. I’d hardly even stretched. And I didn’t meditate at all, or even sit quietly, for that matter.
Still, I wasn’t idle. I did travel halfway around the world and experience a mind-opening mini-immersion in an unfamiliar culture. I also became a mother through the miracle of adoption. I held my daughter for the first time and unveiled within myself—in an almost frighteningly short period—new dimensions of love and gratitude that I hadn’t known existed. I accepted without question total responsibility for another person, another life. And since our return home I’ve let go of my past and rebuilt my present, moment by priceless moment.
No, I didn’t practice much asana. But I believe I did quite a lot of yoga during my leave—all without too many Downward Dogs or Sun Salutations.
When was the last time you did yoga?
It might be more recent than you think.
By Laura Mills
A question non-yogis often ask me upon learning I teach yoga is: “Do you meditate?” And when I answer yes, they seem either impressed or scared. I guess much like asana practice, or even the yogic lifestyle itself, many non-yogis maintain a preconceived notion of what meditation is or involves. Since as many definitions of meditation, techniques for meditation, and opinions of meditation exist as there are meditating people out there, just for the record here’s my current take on it….
When I sit to meditate, I sit comfortably in a peaceful place—not necessarily a quiet place—with my eyes closed. I slow my breathing. I focus my attention on the place between my eyebrows. When I walk to meditate, I focus my attention on each step, the feeling of the earth beneath my feet.
And that’s it.
More often than not, staying focused challenges me, especially if I’m rattled, afraid, or even excited about something. And at those times—if I even notice my attention has strayed in the first place—I keep encouraging my attention back. Happily, practice over time has brought me more ease in staying focused. And with focus, the sensation is one of having put my “busy brain” on a shelf. It’s a relief.
I don’t meditate every day. I intend to, all the time, but I admit it’s one of those practices I move aside as my days fill with other things. Making the time to meditate is, I think, just as much a practice as meditation itself, and something I need to continue to work on.
My take on meditation may change tomorrow, or next year, or never. But at this moment, here I am.
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.
Password: Effort Ease
By Laura Mills
Technology-loving friends chuckle at my techno-phobia. I present a classic case: I understand next to nothing about finer online search strategies and the fancy ins-and-outs of social networking. I longingly remember my box of cherished cassette tapes whenever I attempt to download a new song. As time has passed I’ve found myself farther behind, and I’ve struggled with balancing adaptation to technology with acceptance of my jitters. On one hand I want to keep up with the world, but on the other I’m frustrated that as soon I acclimate to one technological marvel a new, more advanced one appears. (As I type this, my computer is downloading automatic updates and my security software is scanning. Yikes!)
Happily, though, I find encouragement in the yogic idea of combining effort with ease. On our mats as well as off, we are called to find the point at which we have strength and softness, the place at which we can strive as well as let go. The gurus teach us to breathe through sensations until we reach our edge, but then we relax and open to the reality of what exists for us in the pose—or, off our mats, the reality of what exists for us in the circumstance. Easier said than done, I know, but we learn from our yoga practices with time. And with time, just like in our yoga practices, we travel deeper.
We already know the way.
Yoga All the Time
By Laura Mills
I hadn’t noticed it coming on, but suddenly one day after breakfast I felt “icky”—and within the next few hours I realized I had a bit of summer stomach flu. Physically miserable and mentally frustrated, I had no energy with which to do my typical weekend activities like laundry and housecleaning. And, of course, with which to practice asanas…which particularly irked me. With TBY closed for renovation, I had intended to practice at home. But since the stomach flu is a poor companion to asana practice, I opted begrudgingly to curl up on the couch in what felt like a sloth-like stupor.
Amid my thoughts of how far behind I was falling with my chores and tasks, it also occurred to me that yoga at its simplest is taking care of the self. And I realized that in the state I was in, even though I wanted more than anything to jump off the couch into some vinyasas, the best thing for me at that time was rest. Sure enough, within three days my health and energy returned. I came back to my mat happy because I was once again practicing asanas, but happy also because I knew that even while sick I never really stopped practicing yoga.
YOUR LOVE MUSCLE
February 19, 2011. I make the time for important stuff like googling LOVE MUSCLE. Interestingly enough here is the best advice I found in looking after your Love Muscle:
1. Locate the love muscle
2. Remember to breath
3. Don't overdo it
4. Results should show in 8-12 weeks
That's pretty good advice that could easily apply to yoga as well. In yoga we always work our Love Muscle. The love muscle is our mind. We work our mind muscle by focusing our thoughts on positive expectations. Shakti Gawain says it like this, “When we create something, we always create it first in a thought form. If we are basically positive in attitude, expecting satisfaction and happiness, we will attract and create people, situations, and events which conform to our positive expectations.” The more we practice using our muscles the stronger we get. In yoga class we move and breath practicing making our minds stronger. Brian Tracy says, "Winners make a habit of manufacturing their own positive expectations in advance of the event.
I understand maintaining a positive expectation is not easy. Yoga stretches our mind muscle, it teaches us how to connect with ourselves and accept the sense things make or make sense of things as they are.To me this is the ultimate definition of yoga: anything that wakes you up to who you really are, that makes you more aware of your life, that which works our love muscle. Love yourself, Love your day, Love your life! Silvia
PS Here is the salutation we practiced to stretch our mind through our body.
7th Chakra Namaskar
*Start standing in Mountain with HASTA VINYASA – “Conductor arms”
INHALE – Reach arms down and out lift left knee Crane
EXHALE – Arms to sides and reach forward Flying Lunge
INHALE – Low Lunge circle arms out and up
EXHALE – Half Splits circle arms down and out
INHALE – High Lunge circle arms forward and up
EXHALE – Prepare
INHALE – Warrior 3 circle arms down and out
EXHALE – Crane circle arms forward and up, lower foot to Mountain
Side 2 begins
DREAMS DEATH LOVE LIVING
February 9, 2011. I don't mean this to be dramatic or morbid but if I died today could I say that I've lived well. And more importantly could I say that I've loved well. You see today is the anniversary of my Father's death. Enrico Mordini died on this day many years ago, too many to even begin to want to count. And yet the hardest day of my life is also a day of inspiration. It is a reminder every year to ask myself am I loving enough? Am I Creating more love in the world, not just following love but leading the way for love as a Love Warrior so to speak.
For it's not enough to think about it or follow the leader in love it is also our responsibility to make more love in the world. Today more than ever! And yes for me this is also tied up in wondering on this date every year "is my Papa proud of me and how I'm loving my life." Would he think that I respect love enough to salute it every day (like a sun salutation)? I have to believe he is proud of how valiant my attempts are regardless of the results which are sometimes messy and pretty often imperfect.
Funny thing about death is that the anniversary keeps coming back every year and reminds us that we don't know how long we have on this earth. So if you are thinking about getting started in loving more, creating more love, talking to love, talking about love then you should get started NOW. Yesterday, in meditation I decided to turn up the volume of love in my life, mostly because I don't feel like I'm yet "doing" enough to promote love. If I am a Love Ambassador (kind of like a Lululemon Ambassador) I have to get out there and keep the "brand image" of LOVE on the forefront. I have to take more responsibility. So I have pledged to write/blog/meditate about love for 21 days in a row (the length of time some scientists agree it takes to build a healthy habit).
Those of you who know me might think this will be an easy love assignment for me, but being actively pledged to love is not easy. It is simple. Just not easy. That's a long time to be in love with love and maintain a fruitful, spiritually mature dialogue. I say this because when my Father passed away the first person I was angry with was Love. I screamed and cried and shouted at love in my thoughts and out loud, because I couldn't understand why love would take away the first person on this planet who loved me (along with my Mama too). Love seemed so unfair to me then. So you see I haven't always been on good terms with Love, we've argued before and sometimes it's not been pretty.
But here I am, ready to really try to be the Love Ambassador that I want to be and that will make my Papa proud. You see Love is a skill. If you practice love, move like love, think love, behave in a loving way then we're bound to get good at it, just like anything else we practice (sadhana) repeatedly over time.
Eknath Easwaren says it like this “Love is a skill, a precious skill that can be learned. There are many other skills that are useful, even necessary, but in the end, nothing less than learning to love will satisfy us. The saints and mystics tell us that life has only one overriding purpose: to discover the source of infinite love and then to express this love in daily living. Without love, life is empty; without love, life is meaningless. The only purpose which can satisfy us completely, fulfill all our desires, and then make our life a gift to the whole world, is the gradual realization of the Self (LOVE) within, which throws open the gates of love. We cannot dream what depth and breadth of love we are capable of until we make the discovery that this divine spark lives in every creature.”
And today as I dream of love I am just so grateful to breath and welcome a way that promotes living the biggest love possible. So happy am I to have another chance to love more! It comes down to a simple choice (here I really should tell you that my "not so secret" ulterior motive is to build an army of Love Ambassadors worldwide) and I'd like to recruit each of you. The oath is easy. You just say to yourself and then to everyone: I CHOOSE LOVE.
May you love yourself more, love your day more, love your life more! Silvia
GUEST BLOGGER LAURA MILLS IMPRESSIONS OF A NEW YOGA TEACHER
Practice Never Perfect…Thank Goodness By Laura Mills
My first yoga teacher suggested I practice balance daily, even if only to lift one foot an inch at a time. But at the beginning of my yoga life, I barely practiced anything outside my once-a-week class. I tried to fit in a little balance here and there, but only after many random and frustrating foot-lifts did I successfully incorporate it into every day. Eventually, as my yoga life progressed, I understood that balance isn’t something to be learned once and then mastered, like tying a shoe, but instead is a process that continues throughout one’s life. As is yoga itself, so much more than a “thing to do” on a daily basis. I still get frustrated on occasion—with balance as well as other aspects of yoga—but now I recognize those frustrations as merely steps along the way on which I travel.
When I consider my own yogic frustrations, my heart goes out to my students, both beginners and seasoned yogis alike. Occasionally I notice a look cross a face; I know the look well, and I wonder what particular frustration causes it. Perhaps it’s frustration with a constantly-chattering mind or a certain pose. Speaking from my own experience: very likely.
On such occasions I wish I could tell the student my own yoga story, but in a 60- or 75-minute class those details have little place. If time allowed, though, I would share how I’ve always struggled to quiet my mind, and that even now both on and off the mat I often can’t do it. I would share how I couldn’t always touch the floor in Forward Fold or bend my knee 90 degrees in Warrior 2, and how even now on some days doing either of those seems impossible. And, while many students have already heard about my tight hamstrings, here I would add how last year those hamstrings forced me to pull back from my practice and learn modified techniques while they healed from an injury. I would also divulge that I haven’t taught Handstand yet, since I just did my first one less than a year ago, as well as that no student should expect to learn Headstand from me since in anything beyond Tripod I have yet to lift my feet off the ground.
But still, while frustrations occur, the difference between me at the beginning of my yoga life and me now is I understand that no end point or final level exists, and as a result today I am much more content in my practice. Though I continue to struggle with certain aspects of yoga, I realize that doors open and roads unfold constantly—as long as I keep practicing.
I’ve been wondering, then, how best to teach the yogic process to my students. We already convey the idea when we teach preparatory poses before full or more challenging versions, for example, or when we focus on one particular sutra or limb out of many as a class theme. And we always encourage students to “begin where they’re at” and move forward from there. Little by little, even as frustrations occur, all dedicated students grow in their practices. But in the midst of chattering minds and challenging poses, do they realize they are growing? I didn’t realize it, at least not right away.
But, thanks to my first teacher, I started to learn.
And I’m still practicing…balance, and everything else besides.
My best teaching method might then be to continue being myself—as I believe my first teacher was, and as I believe most of my teachers since have been. Like them, I am someone who adores sharing yoga with others and someone whose life yoga has changed. I have faith in yoga, and its process, with my entire being. And with this faith I practice; alongside my students, I grow while doors open and roads unfold.
MY "BEST" PRACTICE BY GUEST BLOGGER LAURA MILLS
December 1, 2101 My "Best" Practice? By Laura Mills, in the words of a New Yoga Teacher
When I was little, someone I admired advised me to achieve two objectives with my future: first, I must choose an endeavor that brings me happiness; and second, no matter what the endeavor, I must be my very best at it. Very shortly after I began teaching yoga, I knew this particular role model would be proud, for no endeavor of my past had shown me so much joy. But even now, more than six months into my teaching experience, the second objective trails a question mark.... Am I truly the best yoga teacher I can be at this point? And if not, how can I become so?
It's not a question of spending more time on class preparation. A yoga teacher can literally spend every moment sequencing poses and developing themes. Realistically, of course, that can't happen--and at this point, I believe I've found a place at which I reasonably weave together yoga teaching and practice with the other strands that together form my complete life, including the eating and sleeping, errands and chores, writing and reading, and other pursuits with which I enrich my time.
If I'm already reading, then, perhaps I should read more about yoga and yoga-related topics. Material abounds, for sure; one of the first things that struck me about teacher training, in fact, was the amount of reading material. Books about the fundamentals of yoga poses and the teaching of them, books on yogic philosophy, books on human anatomy, books on how to incorporate yoga into life off the mat...I confess that even now, six months after teacher training's end, I have yet to make my way through every last page. But even after I complete my first pass through this resource library, much more will remain to be read. Not long ago, for example, at a local bookstore I spotted shelf after shelf of translations of the Yoga Sutras (all different from the three I already own), the Upanisads, and the Bhagavad Gita, as well as books on different styles of yoga, yoga for various ailments and ages, and others. Yes, keeping the pages moving will always be an option.
But really, even while a stack of still-unread yoga books is never far away, I know that yoga-in-writing is really only a small part of what's left for me to learn. The more yoga I practice and the more yoga I teach, the more I feel as if I stand only at the beginning of a path that stretches infinitely ahead. Just connecting with other teachers and students teaches me new lessons all the time, like there's always one more way to sequence a class, one more way to incorporate a theme, one more reason why people come to yoga in the first place, and one more inspiration that brings them back class after class. In six months of teaching I have yet to leave the studio with the same mind with which I entered; at the very least, after every class I am strengthened in my knowledge that I don't know all that exists to know about yoga. And that I never will.
And actually, now that I think about it, perhaps keeping this very point at heart--with the greatest humility and the firmest commitment to yoga as a lifelong practice--is the essence of truly being my very best at this endeavor. Yes, I can continue putting my efforts into preparing classes, and I can pursue yoga-related reading whenever time allows. But I can also reaffirm my intention again and again to embrace my own studentship, letting myself just BE TAUGHT as life as a yoga teacher and everything else that I am unfolds. I can keep my heart open to the practice with the faith that, no matter how long I've been teaching, yoga will always have something left to teach me.
THE CRUCIAL STEP BY GUEST BLOGGER LAURA MILLS
I unrolled my mat and made sure the music I wanted was ready to go. Greatly anticipated, it was to be a quiet hour of yoga with a friend at my home, and thus I took great care in creating the perfect atmosphere and space. As I waited for my friend to arrive, I sat down with a jotted sequence of poses; reading over it, somewhere between Tadasana and Uttanasana the words "I love yoga" floated through my mind. I paused, struck by the words' abrupt appearance, their simplicity, and the fact that my thinking them didn't surprise me at all.
Indeed, as my practice has deepened, but most especially in the last six months as I've embraced the role of yoga teacher, such incidents have occurred more and more often--not always in the form of an unbidden thought, but definitely in a way that integrates seamlessly with the flow of the moment. One evening, for example, while mentally reviewing a class I was to teach the next day, I found myself suddenly up on my feet, moving from Virabhadrasana I to Humble Warrior to Virabhadrasana I to Plank...with joy, I had sprung out of my chair and into the sequence. With nothing in my mind except the love of the practice, my body had just started flowing.
And this tendency, for lack of a better description, hasn't restricted itself to acute incidents, either, but sometimes occurs in the form of a new pattern. One of them I notice during my early-morning home practices.... Without fail, every practice, my body and mind fight the 5:30 am clock chime, the first glow of candlelight and hint of incense, the extra effort coupled with the creaks and cracks of those initial stretches. But by the end of the first wave, my body and mind pulse with peace, content with the flow and happy in the practice. And by the end of the 60 or 75 minutes, I don't want to stop.
Another new pattern occurs each evening, when I attempt to fall asleep. Whereas I used to try to take deep breaths while I replayed the day's events and convinced myself not to let anything bother me, now I settle myself by releasing one long, deep exhale and opening myself to a rush of gratitude. No matter what occurred during the day, I truly believe I am blessed with the privilege of just breathing, of having had another day to live...no mater what. The day's events, whatever they were, don't matter nearly as much.
I definitely didn't feel this way before.
When I first started practicing yoga, it was something I set out to do on a regular schedule--go to class, then go home, then pick up the day where I left off. And though I enjoyed yoga from the beginning, knowing I did something so, so good for me in so, so many ways, with time I began to actually feel yoga: the unbidden thoughts, the joy in the practice, the peace in knowing I am, as yoga teaches, only a small part of something much greater. Feeling yoga like this is what, for me, especially since I began teaching, has distinguished between yoga as a hobby and yoga as a defining quality of who I am. And significantly, because of the yoga I love so much, little by little I've learned to love myself so much better. I hope that now, in the role of yoga teacher, I might inspire others to learn the same for themselves.
May you feel your yoga, too... Laura
DELIBERATE SELF-STUDY PRACTICED WITH INTENTION
October 23, 2010. Today painting a picture with the words:
We all had other places we could be today but we chose to be on the mat. This was a deliberate choice. Just like what we say or eat or do or think is deliberate. In yoga we make a deliberate choice to show up and take responsibility for our actions where we place our hands, our self-talk and we study ourselves Svadhaya to learn about ourselves. This may be a huge paradigm shift as most of us go about life studying what everyone is doing to learn about ourselves. Or we are more interested in what everyone else has to think about us than we are of our own opinion.
The practice of yoga is defined in the yoga sutras is something that is practiced over a long time, repeated without break (consistent) and practiced in earnestness. A sort of serous studentship. And behind that practice is the power of intention. Intention is on purpose. It is in other words deliberate.
So you see how this creates a healthy feedback loop and helps to give us the means to end our suffering and come into our true nature which is joy and ever expanding happiness! You have the ingredients in deliberate self-study practiced with intention. Now all it takes is you. Love yourself, love your day, love your life, Silvia
THIS PLACE OF MINE BY GUEST BLOGGER LAURA MILLS
October 12, 2010 This Place of Mine.... (Thoughts of a Beginning Yoga Teacher) By Laura Mills
The need to put things in their place is what initially drew me to yoga. After some difficult years during which my life's flow drastically changed course, yoga proved itself a paddle with which I continued sailing forward. Yoga felt right; it made ME feel right, or at least more right than before...which made pursuing my teaching credentials feel especially right, so I could ultimately help others do the same.
And so, eager to teach others about re-establishing life's peace--about putting things in their place--I immersed myself in a teacher training program. And then, sooner than expected, a teaching opportunity arose, and into my first class I jumped. I'm glad it all happened quickly; if I had had more time to think before I accepted the commitment, I likely would have talked myself out of it. And true to my nature, after I accepted I struggled daily with the thought, "What have I gotten myself into?" Terrified, I wrote my first class, then practiced it at least once a day for an entire week. I mentally rehearsed it again and again. I even took the class plan to bed with me.
Was this what "right" should feel like?
The morning of the class I woke up sick-to-my-stomach nervous, and throughout the early hours I forced myself to stay busy at the risk of otherwise panicking. In fact, up to the moment the class began I focused so intently on NOT panicking that I can't explain too much else of what happened that day--all I know is that after the class I felt a surge of relief. And exhilaration, for it had gone well...which surprised me, because again true to my nature I had expected something to go wrong. Still, even with my initial happiness, afterwards I mentally replayed the class: did I cue everything correctly? Did I make eye contact? Did I speak clearly? Was my music too loud? What's landscape vision again? Was this really the right course for my life?
As my second, third, fourth and subsequent classes passed with the same anxieties and the same questions, something else emerged: a new dimension to the respect I held for my own yoga teachers. The effort in sequencing a class, the thought in developing a theme, the creativity in compiling a playlist...the amount of work involved, which I now undertook myself, revealed my teachers' love of and dedication to the practice. The thought of all they had done for me as their student humbled me. But even more than that, my realization of their faith inspired me anew...faith that, at some point, a teacher just has to let go of each class and trust that she or he has prepared enough and the rest will somehow come together.
The anxieties and the questions began to diminish...a little.
And then, a bit further along, an old feeling arose within me--a really, really good feeling that felt stronger with each class. I hadn't felt it in a long time, but here it was, back again. I recognized it when I realized I felt more excitement than nervousness before class; I recognized it when I realized I greatly looked forward to interacting with my students, many of whom I now knew by name. I recognized it when I realized I wasn't just another yoga teacher working with just another group of students, but part of a unique and beautiful yoga studio family.
And, I recognized it when I realized I was totally overwhelmed with blessings. With my attention lately so focused on yoga, my yoga-related blessings in particular were in mind.... My yoga teachers who enriched my practice and inspired me; my fellow trainees who shared so many of their gifts; my students who put their faith in me to guide them through each practice, each class; my husband who supported me in every possible way on my yoga journey. And God, the Universe, the Divine Being, who made certain that yoga and yoga teaching found me, and thus put me in my place...which is, in light of all this I am growing more certain, the right one.
Wishing you peace in recognizing your place, Laura
THE IMPORTANCE OF RITUALS
SEPTEMBER 27, 2010 Yoga is one of my most important Rituals. Actually the first time I understood what the word "practice" really meant the lightbulb went off and I realized oh yeah, "something I practice repeatedly over a long period of time". Well that is a ritual too.
Within my yoga life the ritual I have especially on Monday's is to do a balancing of my energies related to the elements. Before I believed in Chakras, I did believe in Earth, Water, Air, Fire. Then eventually I started to understand that all of the elements are within and outside us. And even beyond that the concept of Doshas and Chakras. And all of it got less intimidating. Two easy ways for me to stay connected to the elements and through that discover where I am excessive or deficient and do something about it are:
1. Each finger represents an element so I pray, meditate, focus on bringing my thumb to each finger.
2. I sing a song to the elements (I know lots of them but this one was the focus tonight). And in Spanish to my Latin roots (my Mom's side as my Dad's side is the Italian part)
Tierra mi Cuerpo
Agua mi Sangre
Aire mi Viento
Y Fuego mi Espiritu.
Hey even if you don't understand Spanish you might pick up a word here or there. So this is translated as: Earth my Body, Water my Blood, Air my Breath, and Fire my Spirit.
What does this have to do with Rituals? Well when we disconnect from our rituals we lose touch with what Louise Hay calls our "inner ding" or intuition or good old fashion gut feel. So this practice was meant to bring our awareness to the four elements and feel that connection of each to ourselves, the micro experience, and to the world at large, our macro experience. All of this reminds us that we are in Yoga at every moment of our lives. There is this primordial power or universal intelligence that draws us together in balance, in union. And this goes beyond us to our ancestors and to the legacy we leave beyond this earthly body. Perhaps this inspires you to create your own Ritual around the elements, or even a single element, and I hope so. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
PS For the full blog, part of which I shared in class, of Dr. Enrique Saguil, TBY Teacher Trainee, click here: http://herbal411.blogspot.com/2010/09/lack-of-disease-doesnt-equal-good.html
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A YOGA STUDENT ADHIKARA BABY!
SEPTEMBER 16, 2010
Super Duper Namaste,
During the month of August I devoted myself to Adhikira. Adhikara translates as studentship. So this means I made a full-hearted effort to be a student of yoga. Martha McQuid says, “In Sanskrit, adhikara refers to being spiritually open, or ready, for spiritual study (in Sanskrit, Sadhana). It also implies a level of ownership and willingness to take responsibility, as well as dedication, for the subject that is being studied. (*More on adhikara below)
During that month I explored a wide variety of studios and tried over 20 teachers! I know we say that yoga is non-comparative, that on the mat we don’t compare ourselves to others, but how do we know without trying different teachers what we like a little bit better or what suits our tastes or personality. The point is to keep trying and give everyone a shot. Being a student of yoga means that you are open, dedicated and willing to try other teachers. It doesn’t mean that everyone’s style or personality is going to suit you. You might find some teachers more to your liking. But don’t stop trying, don’t refuse to have the pleasure of learning from someone new.
That’s the most important part. To be a student of yoga means to embrace everyone and be open to the holistic experience of what is possible. And to me it also means that each of us as students is responsible for making that class the best one of our lives! Being a great student of yoga is co-creating right along with your teacher the most delicious alchemy where we become yoga (yoked, in union). It is then when we are living our Namaste: the light of what is good in me sees and celebrates the light and goodness in you, and together we celebrate the beauty and love that exists within us and outside us! From my heart thank you to all the teachers at TBY that subbed for me, and special maholo, love and respect to all the students at TBY who opened their hearts to new teachers. I NAMASTE YOU! Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
*ADHIKARA CONTINUED “Thus, a student that is brand new to yoga wouldn’t begin a practice in an advanced level class, despite excellent physical conditioning, or a background in dance or gymnastics. There is a linear rhythm to learning anything - music, mathematics, language. We always begin with simple ideas and then move forward into the complex. For example, when you learn a musical instrument, you don’t start by trying to play a Mozart concerto. We begin by learning the notes and where they fall in the musical staff, then fingerings, then scales, then simple tunes and over time with dedicated practice, Mozart! A newer student who pushes too hard can get an overload of this energy and not understand it or be able to contain it. In order to prepare the body to receive this energy, we take a methodical approach to practice. In yoga philosophy, this idea is supported in The Yoga Sutra’s of Patanjali 1:14 which is translated as ‘steady practice over a long period of time.” Now apply this to a new yoga instructor. They are trying their best, and the only way they can get better is if you allow them to practice and grow. I promise you they will exceed your expectations if you just give them even just a little while to evolve.
DOING YOUR OWN YOGA
SEPTEMBER 3, 2010. Can you imagine a world where everyone does their own yoga? It is something I say in class all, all the time. Just let everyone be themselves. Or as Leo Buscaglia says, “The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don't let them put you in that position.”
In a warrior pose for instance this means shorten or widen your stance, bend your knee a lot or a little, hold your arms up in any position or relax your harms by your sides look up, look straight or close your eyes. And the list goes on and on and that's just one pose. Seriously, what if we allowed others to be who they are instead of wanting them to be something different? How would their life be different? What would your quality of life be like? Let me put in perspective like this with a story told to a teacher, repeated by a teacher, told to me and I share with you... imagine the vastness of the ocean and there in the distance you see a single life preserver, just one for the whole ocean. Then imagine under the sea there is a dolphin swimming about trying to come up for air in the exact same spot as there exists the single life preserver. The chances of the dolphin arising out of the water at the one place the life preserver awaits is said to be the chance we have at being born Human.
When you think of how dramatic our winning the lotto of life is by being a human being it is remarkable that we would waste a moment forcing others to be what they are not or gossiping about what they are or doing anything besides just BEING OURSELVES. From a buddhist perspective what distinguishes humans from other beings is that we can realize our own suffering and address it. We can in effect by being ourselves, save ourselves from remaining in a state of suffering and instead enjoying constant ordinary happiness. To me this is the Peace in the world that most of us are aspiring to for our children, and for our children's children.
“Among individuals as among nations, the respect to other people's rights is peace” Benito Juarez
The single hardest yoga pose to practice is "being oneself." So next time you start talking about what someone in your life (your boss, your colleague, your partner, your kids, your parents) are doing life wrong step back and allow them to be who they are. We can only be second best at trying to be someone else. We can only be best at practicing living life as unique and wonderful as we are. Imperfectly perfect. Love yourself, love your day, love your life, Silvia
For more about me visit www.silviamordini.com or my spiritual travel company www.alchemytours.com
I AM SO HAPPY
"I am so happy, I cannot be contained in the world; If the foot of the trees were not tied to earth, they would be pursuing me;But like a spirit, I am hidden from the eyes of the world. For I have blossomed so much, I am the envy of the gardens." RUMI as translated by Keshavarz
SEPTEMBER 1, 2010. More than ever I aspire to this feeling of spirit day in and day out. I've tried looking outside myself for this experience, and through my yoga practice I've made time to look within. As you know, this last month I took it to a new level. I've had regular yoga teachers that took a month out for their own development every year whether it meant traveling to Thailand to be with their teacher or going on month long silent retreat or just taking a time out from teaching to more deeply commit themselves to the Yoga of Relationship. So I did all of that this last 31 days. And I am so happy I did! I attended an awesome yoga teacher training and practiced many styles of yoga with many, many teachers, I spent time in quiet contemplation/meditation in nature and most importantly I consistently practiced unconditional love for my best friend. I learned how to expand my capacity to be more fearless in loving someone and allowing myself to be loved in return. This is the trinurti (3-fold) nature of yogic practice like a tripod that needs all three legs to remain standing: study, practice, teach.
I have blossomed so much.
I went into this personal sabbatical with many questions and in some way as a spiritual seeker I was looking for answers. I return with more questions than I did when I took time off. What I do know is "I am so happy"! Making ourselves important and setting aside time to design our intentions is not easy. It is hard work to still the mind in order to get to that point of asking the questions, it is what Elizabeth Gilbert writes about in her book Eat, Pray, Love, "You cannot see your reflection in running water, only still water." I can see better who I am, what I want in my life and I am asking better harder questions of myself.
Why would I put myself through this? Because I want to keep evolving my happiness. A little happiness is not enough for me, I want a lot of happiness and I deserve that today be the best day of my life and I take this to a new edge tomorrow, just like we do in bending our knee in a warrior pose. And I realized my happiness would remain stunted if I kept repeating old patterns or ignoring what those patterns in my mind or actions are. As Miss Gilbert writes, "Take care of the problems now, or else you'll just have to suffer again later when you scew everything up the next time. And that repetition of suffering - that's hell. Moving out of that endless repetition to a new level of understand - there's where you'll find heaven." Fundamentally this is where Yoga holds our hands and encourages us to be happier than we ever thought we could be by quieting our minds, helping us see the old problems and moving beyond them to our best lives ever. So thank you dear students, friends, teachers for understanding my desire for personal growth and evolution and as you support me, please know with great passion and simple love I support you in your journey's as well. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
If you need a break consider joining me on Yoga Retreat in Tuscany October 24-30 or Moab November 4-7, or in December either Pagosa Springs or Hawaii
IS YOGA SPIRITUAL
May 18, 2010, I have this conversation with someone or many folks quite frankly every week without fail. Is Yoga Spiritual? And the first thing I do when I receive this question is ask (as I am doing here with you), What does it mean to you to be Spiritual?
What yoga is and what it isn’t is often hotly debated. My best friend just sent me a link to a movie called Yoga, Inc which also includes this topic. Our 6th chakra Ajna sensibility is really about perception. The encyclopedia of events in your life influence how you define the circumstances and attitudes of your life. To me the key point is that you get to decide what your thoughts are and you are responsible for managing your view of your life. It’s that old saying:
“Watch your thoughts for they become words
Watch your words for they become actions
Watch your actions for they become habits
Watch your habits for they become character
Watch your character for it becomes your destiny!”
My all time favorite definition of yoga that I take on as my own as well is by David Frawley, Yoga and Ayurveda:
“Yoga is one of the most extraordinary spiritual sciences that mankind has discovered. It is like a gem of great proportions, containing many facets whose light can illume the whole of our lives with great meaning. Yogic methods cover the entire field of our existence – from the physical, sensory, emotional, mental, and spiritual to the highest Self-realization. It includes all methods of higher evolution in humanity – physical postures, ethical postures, breath control, sensory methods, affirmations and visualizations, prayer and mantra, and complex meditative disciplines. Yoga understands the nature and interrelationships of the physical, subtle and formless universes into the boundless infinite beyond time and space, and shows us how these also exist within each human individual.”
So I guess there you have it. You now know for sure I believe this is a spiritual practice, or at least it is for me, and can be for you if you want to make it such. And if you don’t believe yoga is spiritual you gain all these amazing benefits anyway. So I say, let everyone do their own yoga. And if it makes us all nicer and kinder than regardless of anything more, we have succeeded in making the world a better place right now. Love to you all, Silvia
FOURTH AGREEMENT DO YOUR BEST TO ENJOY LIFE
APRIL 9, 2010: The fourth agreement is ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST. Don Miguel Ruiz says, "Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality and other times it will not be as good. When you wake up refreshed and energized in the morning , your best will be better than when you are tired. Regardless of the quality keep doing your best."
That's the part I love the most that our best requires a constant sensitive adjustment. That it is different moment to moment. This also correlates to yoga sutra of:
Sthira Sukum Asanam. (Effortless effort)
This fundamental Yoga Sutra of Pantanjali has many interpretations one of which is that the asana/poses should be steady and comfortable. That we find an effortless in life whereby the pose we take (walking, talking, sitting, driving) be so elegant that the body is made more easy and attractive to the flow of prana/breath. This practice of graceful effort means that some days it might be more difficult and some days it's easy, just like life is filled with joyousness and setbacks. But the point is to keep going. Ruiz puts it like this, "If you try too hard to do more than your best, you will spend more energy than is needed and in the end your best will not be enough. When you overdo, you deplete your body and go against yourself and it will take longer to accomplish your goal. But if you do less than your best, you subject yourself to frustrations, self-judgement, guilt and regret."
Remember the Story of guy that goes to a Master asks about how long must he meditate to "transcend" or become happier, more enlightened. The most important lesson from this was when Ruiz writes, "You are not here to sacrifice your joy or your life. You are here to live, to be happy and to love. If you can do your best in two hours of meditation, but you spend 8 instead you will grow tired miss the point and won't enjoy your life."
You see how yogic this is, that we manage our energies all to cultivate our own best happiness right now, right here in the present moment. And as part of this we go easy on ourselves never to a point of exhaustion whereby we might "miss the point" of life. Some say the highest practice of yoga is this form of radical self-acceptance, "When you do your best you learn to accept yourself. Learning from your mistakes means you practice, look honestly at the results and keep practicing."
"The best way to say thank you God is be letting go of the past and living in the present moment, right here and now. When you let go of the past you allow yourself to be fully alive in the present moment. Letting go of the past means you can enjoy the dream that is happening right now." Embrace your life. Let yoga help you learn how to surrender to the happiest life ever!
"You were born with the right to be happy. You were born with the right to love, to enjoy and to share your love. You are alive, so take your life and enjoy it. We don't need to know or prove anything. Just to be, to take a risk and enjoy your life, is all that matters." Love to you all. Courage to you all to JUST BE, Silvia
HOW HAS YOGA CHANGED YOUR LIFE?
MARCH 28, 2010: It wasn't so long ago that I was resistant to all the avenues of social networking. Then once I started I learned I loved it! I read an article about the Yoga of Facebook a couple days ago and something clicked. The way yoga has changed my life is that I now see yoga in everything. There is a yoga of facebook, the yoga of ordering Starbucks, the yoga of being in line at Target, the yoga of friendship, the yoga is what reminds us about what it means to live in alignment with what truly allows you to be your best self while at the same time serving others as a positive contributing member of humanity. And from being friends on facebook one of our clients asked if they could have a few minutes of time after class on Sunday to interview TBY students about how the yoga has changed their lives. Of course I said, that's great! As a result they inspired me to bring this as the theme for class. So during the course of yoga practice I "interviewed" each student, their answers were silent for themselves. I hope you take a moment if you couldn't join me Sunday and interview yourself about how your yoga has impacted your life. And if you too have figured out, "it's all yoga." And to my facebook friends, I love you guys!! Stay human, stay connected. Love, Silvia
For how long have you been practicing yoga?
And what kind of yoga do you like the most?
What drew you to the practice?
And what has kept you in the practice?
What now inspires your current practice?
What changes have you noticed in your life since beginning and/or maintaining your practice?
Have you noticed any changes in your personal relationships (e.g. familial, work, friendships, romantic, random people on the street, pets, etc.)?
When you first commenced your practice did you notice any aspect of your life fluctuating—in good, bad, or ambiguous ways?
Please describe a circumstance in which the presence of yoga in your life has clearly demonstrated how you may handle situations differently.
HOME PRACTICE HOW IT HELPS TO REVISE OUR MYTHS
FIRST THINGS FIRST. Think of some myth about yourself you’ve bought into? Like “I’m not strong enough, I don’t have enough time, I’m not old enough, I’m not young enough, I don’t have enough money, I’m not flexible enough, I’m not ____________________________. This practice helps us to unfold our own myth (Rumi). It has us bump up against the myths or self-limiting beliefs we have about ourselves. But as Yogananda writes, “What you are is much greater than anything or anyone else you have ever yearned for. Spirit is manifest in you in a way that Spirit is not manifest in any other human being. Your face is unlike anyone elses’s, your soul is unlike anyone else’s, you are sufficient unto yourself; for within your soul likes the greatest treasure of all – Spirit.”
You see “We no longer have a choice about including practices in our daily lives that create health and spiritual growth. If we want a world worth living in today, as well as one worth leaving to future generations, we must take responsibility to create health in our lives, as well as to support others as they choose healthier lives for themselves. It is up to each of each of us to lovingly transform the world simply by first transforming ourselves.” (Judith Lasater)
But we have to see the myths that hold us back for what they really are. “We are responsible for what we are and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves.” (Swami Vivekananda) Practicing even 5-7 minutes of yoga helps us to not remain victims of old habits, we begin to do the work of washing away the myths. What is required is that we work harder than our pain or made-up limitations.
“Mines of power lie unexplored within you. You use this power unconsciously in all things you do, and you achieve certain results; but, if you learn how to consciously control and use the power within you, you can accomplish much more.” (Yogananda) When it comes to picking out what poses to do you have to begin by asking yourself what you need: self-reflection creates self-awareness and reinforces self-love. Tonight’s class will teach you a (1) Hip Opening Flow, (2) Backbend Flow, (3) Sun Salutation C, (4) Forward Fold/Twist Flow so you have 4 sequences to work on at home when you need them most. Love and light! Silvia
FORWARD FOLDS. These are calming, quieting in their impact. They are restful poses to calm you down when you feel agitated or hyper and restful when you are fatigued.
SUN SALUTATIONS. Energizing for your emotional body and can help lift you out of lethargy, depression, mental fatigue.
STANDING POSES. These are very grounding as well as energizing. They immediately engage your body-mind connection and bring you into the present moment. They are good to do when worried, distracted or agitated.
BACKBENDS. These are energizing, uplifting poses. They create more energy when you are tired. If you are already nervous they can make you over stimulated if they are difficult so you can also practice passive backbends. These poses also open you up emotionally which may cause strong emotions to arise.
TWISTS. Cleansing and balancing. They help release stress from your body-mind.
HIP OPENERS. These are very grounding and balancing. They help release tension and bring you into the present moment.
INVERSIONS. These are soothing, balancing and centering.
OCTOBER 31, 2009: So last Friday night for a Halloween Birthday Party for a friend I made butternut squash soup for the first time. Amazing recipe given to me by a dear student. Now this was quite something for me to attempt to cook something new, but knowing that someone else had made it before and was encouraging me to try for myself helped immensely. Yup, that sounds pretty much like yoga. You may not know the poses but rest assured that your instructor has years of experience in the poses and wants to help support you as you try for yourself. And yes it can be a bit scary. But we learn from this practice that we don’t have to do it perfectly the first time and the whole reason for coming together to practice in a group is to have the group encouragement along with that of your teacher. Like family and friends that serve as the container of our greater life experience the kula embraces us. And we always know we are safe within the container of this sacred space of the practice room.
In this safety we can realize that as sutra 1.30 says “The Perception of our true nature which is peaceful joy 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.”
Knowing I have a place to go when I need to replenish and address these imbalances has saved my life many, many times over. I could come into the practice room, into the group energy and be contained within myself so I could process whatever was going on in my life. I could let it cook and as a result feel more healthy upon leaving class. Speaking of containers I had to go out and buy my first crock pot at the Target on Friday (what an amazing selection!) because I realized once I made the soup I would need something safe to carry it in to the party. The container served to hold what I had personally created (along with help from my friend Janet dressed as Pee Wee Herman at the time) and as she drove us to the birthday gathering she made sure we were safe in her car until we arrived into the warm embrace of gentle friends. The whole thing was about containers.
We serve ourselves as that container of peace and love within and we connect to others in groups, tribes, families contained in that same way. So from my heart to yours know when you come to class you are safe, you are cared for and you can take time to feel all that is good within you. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much I did and just like doing a yoga pose, I will be making this soup for years and years to come. Love and light! Silvia
Butternut Squash and Apple Soup From Don P.
This recipe makes about 3 1/2 quarts which is about 18 6 oz portions so feel free to cut this recipe in half. It freezes well however so you can save it for a super quick lunch or dinner. I freeze this in 2 or 4 serving size containers let it cool before you freeze it.
2 Tblsp unsalted butter
2 Tblsp good Quality Olive Oil
4 cups yellow onion med dice
1 tblsp Curry Powder ( The curry is an interesting flavor combo that adds depth but you could substitute a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and nutmeg if you dont like curry)
5 lbs butternut squash
1 1/2 lbs McIintosh Apples
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups water
2 cups apple juice or cider.
Heat the butter and oil in a large stock pot over med heat, add the curry and the onion to the pot and cook for 15 min stir the misture a few times and scrape the bottom of the pot. Peel the squash cut in half and remove the seeds with a spoon or the handle of your peeler and cut into 1 inch chunks. Peel quarter and core the apples and cut into 1 inch chunks as well.
TIME OUT OR TIME IN FOR YOGA - GUEST BLOGGER
SEPTEMBER 24, 2009: Okay, so it’s Monday morning. You’ve made your “to do” list for the week and you’re ready to go. Work, errands, and family responsibilities all listed on a nice piece of paper. It’s easy to get in that quick yoga practice to get the week off right. Tuesday is here and you’re feeling good about what you got done on Monday, so you get the full routine going. Maybe yoga fits in. Wednesday comes and you know you need to get over the hump day, so you’re sure to get in that practice to make the day productive. Thursday starts out and you realize – “OH NO! I have so much to do before the weekend. I can’t possibly fit in yoga today!”
Does this sound familiar? Does the week get started with the best intentions, then by Thursday you’re so overwhelmed that you forget or neglect to get your yoga in? Here are some reasons to schedule in that practice on Thursday mornings
- Yoga reduces stress – being overwhelmed by your “to do” list creates stress in the body and mind. Yoga controls the breath and clears the mind of cluttered thoughts.
- Yoga wards off illness – reducing stress will keep you healthy. Research shows that yoga boosts the immune system.
- Yoga improves concentration – when you can focus, you can get more of that “to do” list done.
- Yoga keeps you feeling young – BKS Iyengar did 108 back bends on his 80th birthday! Maybe growing old is just in our restless minds???
- Yoga improves energy levels and productivity – yoga replenishes the mind and body with precious energy needed to respond to daily tasks and challenges.
You can’t beat those reasons for scheduling in your practice.
This Thursday, we’ll explore how setting your intention at the beginning of practice and specifically in certain poses can bring awareness to the body and spirit. We’ll practice poses that invoke certain emotions, giving us an opportunity to explore. We’ll affirm our inner spirit and listen to our hearts throughout our practice. Then, we’ll take these great feelings with us as we step off of the mat and move into the business of the day.
Join me – Thursdays 9:15 am Level 1/2 – or – if you’d like a gentler class, come to Silvia’s 10:45 Basics class.
Don’t take TIME OUT of your day for yoga, add TIME IN to your day by increasing your productivity and focus by attending yoga class.
Wishing you Peace, Prosperity, and Productivity, Mary
DO YOU RESPOND OR REACT? HOW TO LESSEN THE DRAMA
I am feeling that vibe from the universe where I can tell folks are experiencing super busy minds but tiredness at the same time. Perhaps its end of summer buzz where we feel an energetic shift taking place and are in the process of making a million decisions for the next month. Well whatever the reasons I thought we'd focus tonight on clearing the mind and relaxing our hearts. Our philosophical focus on the difference between reacting and responding (only one is healing)!
We will begin seated with meditation, then recline followed by some supine poses to calm and relax. After this we will use standing poses to anchor us more fully into the moment. Finally I will guide us through a step by step approach to learning handstand (working at our own pace) so that you can practice this pose safely at home. At the end of practice we will enjoy an extra long final relaxation to bring it all together.
The poses will help us practice making choices. For we are surrounded with choices some more obviously healthy than others. Yoga wakes us up so we can be more present to the choices we are presented and from there we choose to either react or respond. These aren’t the same thing. Reacting is negative and Responding is positive. Which one are you doing?
Reacting is out of control feeling that just eats up our energy where we are too caught up in the details to understand the situation. Examples include excessive worry and anger. Whereas responding in calm and mindful and we are fully in charge of our feelings so no energy is wasted. We see the big picture. “Respond” comes from two root words: Re- meaning Back, and Spondere meaning “To Pledge.”
As a result in this practice we learn about our old ways of reacting, our habits and instead pledge to ourselves to create healthier habits and respond in a quiet way without the drama. In this way we no longer ourselves trigger fight or flight response with every decision and instead remain more calm. The sympathetic nervous system remains easeful and the mind finds quiet. It’s all here for you to discover on the mat. Love the day! Silvia
THERE ARE NO DISASTERS
MAY 7TH, 2009: When life is its most challenging we can feel darkness even on the sunniest of days. What spiritual practice teaches us is that there is really no bad experience, it is all just experience. So in a real sense there are NO DISASTERS.
Now don't get me wrong, is life sometimes dreadfully painful. Do we have those moments where we feel like we are surrounded by smooth sailing sailboats while we're treading water in a beat up, holded up dinghy? YES. Even then we can see that we are becoming experts in the human condition which will help us be more compassionate and kind when we see someone that is a few steps behind us on the spiritual path, tripping and falling.
Have you ever felt that you get so stuck replaying the disaster that has just happened or rehearsing the what if this happens in my life to me that you get paralyzed and can't move from the catastrophe? I have. You know that the car has flipped over and you have to get out but you just can't move. You don't want to stay in pain but you can't muster the energy or courage to GO TO YOGA CLASS. Even though you know it will help you, help yourself. Ultimately yoga teaches us to save ourselves. We are the knight in shining armor. And we have to save ourselves first before we can even possible help others.
I think of this all like a Bruce Willis or Arnold movie where stuff just keeps blowing up all around.
DISCOVER THE TRUTH OF WHO YOU ARE
May 3, 2009:
Ok you guys, I’m a little embarrassed to admit I used to be one of those people that would take forever to order food at dinner. I’d be at the table waiting for everyone else to order first because I didn’t have the confidence in the truth of my first instinct in what to order for myself. Now this may not be a big deal at dinner but it’s a tough way to go through life being indecisive or confused to the TRUTH of who we are (starting with what we want to eat). Why didn’t I order what I wanted to? I was too afraid of disappointing someone at the table because they wanted me to order something different than what I wanted or I felt guilty ordering something too expensive. Really in all honesty I was just afraid of standing up and being myself, declaring to the world “Yes, this is what I want based on who I am.” This is me remaining true to my truth.
This is how I was living life at the time. I felt constant guilt over what everyone else wanted me to be. So I tried desparertly to be who they wanted me to be by wearing that costume. I never felt like myself inside the costume and the longer I wore it the more itchy and uncomfortable it became until I just couldn’t deny any more that the costume was NOT ME. My soul was sweating and dying inside from not revealing the true me. So my spiritual practice evolved and I stopped trying so hard to be who other people wanted me to be.
I realized that I was trying to be a photocopy of someone else and as we all know photocopies are never as good as the originals. I would only ever be the second best someone else. The only person I could be the best at being was ME. In Yoga that’s known as Satya, “Truth and authenticity” of acknowledging our unique humanness. I don’t to want to be a PHOTOCOPY PERSON. Do you? Because take it from me, you don’t have to be.
In yoga we peel of these outer layers or costumes, masks we wear to rediscover our TRUE selves. It’s not always easy work, there are tears, laughter, sweating, sometimes even a bit of pain. But overall it’s a whole lot easier than trying to wear an ill fitting costume the rest of our lives. And it makes ordering dinner much easier too!
So how do we maintain it? Well what we are talking about here is a daily spiritual practice (known as Sadhana) where you make time to stay connected to your own truth otherwise the resistance monsters of fear, doubt, guilt come back. And it is achieved through self-love, seeing who we are is just perfect (without condition) we are each vitally important to the world as we are true. This is where we found ultimate freedom from mental torture and stress.
Does this seem a little self-centered? Of course, it should. As Sadie Nardini says, “spiritual disciplines like yoga are built around this concept of moving into and from our center.” The cool thing is by being more authentic we give everyone else around us permission to be themselves. There is no pretending and relationships deepen. It’s a neat way to live, really the only way to live.
The alternative it seems is to keep wearing the costumes, building really great “Life Resumes” as if you were trying to apply for the job of your own life. I did that. I put together a Silvia Resume (didn’t really feel totally like me because I was trying to impress everyone else). Then through yoga funny thing happened. As the true me was allowed to shine out I realized I already had the job of being Silvia. And I was only going to get this one chance, this one lifetime to enjoy remaining true to my own truth.
Today, even for a little while take off the costume, be your funky self! So you’ll love yourself more, love your day more, love your life more! Silvia
BELIEVE IT: LOVE HEALS
APRIL 20TH, 2009: Spiritual practice doesn't mean we don't ever face self doubt or worry. We do. The difference for me in my life is that when this happens I know better questions to ask myself. Then it’s a matter of believing, trusting, having pure faith. In what? It's easy, LOVE.
Love does heal, will heal, if you step into the currents of grace and allow it to flow into your life.
What blocks the flow is fear, the enemy of love. Fear is any form of negativity. Don’t wait, remove the blocks of negativity that is slowing the flow of love into your life and you'll come to believe this yourself.
In yoga we are the lover and the beloved: As Rumi writes, We are the mirror as well as the face in it. We are pain and what cures pain both. He encourages you to, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.” He puts it most simply when he writes:
I love myself...I love you.
I love you...I love myself.
5 ELEMENTS MEDITATION: LOVE HEALS
Part of my healing took place as I practiced a technique based on the teachings of Swami Kaleshwar. You sit or lie down, holding your hands just above your shoulders. You repeat the mantra, "Oh God, my heart is open to you, please come sit in my heart". You say this once for each fingertip. Your thumb is the Earth, your index finger is the Fire, the middle is Sky, the ring finger is Water and the small finger is Air.
You say the mantra for each fingertip giving each one a little wiggle as you say it. You may feel heat or a tingling sensation after a few weeks or months of practice. Each fingertip contains a chakra for receiving energy that corresponds to the five elements energy. When you are asking God into your heart you are drawing natural energy in through your fingertips. Performing this meditation technique for 15 minutes twice a day will open your heart to pull the divine energy in you. It will help dissolve your layers and problems in love. It is said that Shiva (Father energy), is flowing in the five elements. Shiva is said to be the Lord of five elements, Namashivaya. He is the pure consciousness, the highest person to reach in the universe. He's where you will find peace. Connecting to Shiva brings you the deepest peace and silence. This deep peace helps you transcend your problems and emotional blocks. When you are in a negative state of mind it helps you come back to your natural states of Love, confidence and happiness. It aligns you with divine peace, intelligence and creativity. This technique is for charging and aligning yourself with LOVE energy. Try it for yourself and see. Big love, love, love to you all, Silvia
HAPPINESS TRAINING - SPRING HAS BEGUN!
MARCH 25, 2009: Now as Spring has started is the perfect time to go back into training if you stopped along the way this Winter. What training you ask? Well, HAPPINESS TRAINING. That's what I like to call Yoga. Just like if we were training to run a marathon happines takes practice and training.
Now although the two have a lot in common where they diverge is that if you practice, then run the marathon it is completed. With happiness training, the training never ends. It lasts a lifetime! Why do we need training in happiness? Because most of us don't wake up happy every day. Even science says that our braings are wired to look for what's wrong. According to Martin Seligman in the book Authentic Happiness this is known as the catastrophic brain. He goes on to say that in neurological testing humans viewing unpleasant images showed activity in the primitive parts of the brain. Humans viewing pleasant images showed activity in more recently evolved parts of the brain.
So we are at the the cutting edge of our evolution! The great news is that you can start training anytime. In the words of Lama Yeshe, "it is never too late. Even if you're going to die tomorrrow, keep yourself straight and clear and be a happy human being today. If you keep your sitatution happy day by day, you will eventually reach the greatest happiness of Enlightenment."
So join me on the mat for continued practice reversing the negative stories we tell ourselves and strengthening ourselves with a positive life perspective. As Thit Nhat Hanh says, "people deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try to see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?"
May all beings be happy, loved and peaceful! JAI! Silvia