FAITH IS A VERB AN ACTION
April 7, 2011. 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. We are destined to rise to life’s highest ideal if we just keep the faith and trust in ourselves. This is like a promise we make to ourselves, an example of the most important kind of active faith for it’s the promise of believing in our best happiness. Now what I like most about Faith is best offered in the words of Sharon Salzberg who writes, “In Pali, faith is a verb, an ACTION, as it is also in Latin and Hebrew. Faith is not a singular state that we either have or don’t have , but is something that we do. We ‘faithe”. It is the willingness to take the next step, to see the unknown as an adventure, to launch a journey. Faith is what gets us out of bed, opens us to the possibility that our lives can be different. Though we may repeatedly stumble, afraid to move forward in the dark, we have the strength to take that magnitude of risk because of faith.”
Through FAITH we can see that although heartache or hurt exists in the world with Faith we will recover. Helen Keller says it like this, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” How do we action our faith? First we must accept that Faith is active, it’s something we have to take responsibility in doing. We can’t expect our healing to happen if we aren’t most interested in our own healings. I believe Jon Kabat Zinn who defines trust as “spiritual and emotional maturity”. It takes faith to have confidence in our potential for evolving in our maturity (physically, emotionally, emotionally). In yoga this is the most advanced pose, loving ourselves.
As Rumi writes, We are the mirror as well as the face in it. We are pain and what cures pain both. He encourages us to be the catalyst for faith healing our own wounds. How do we do this? Rumi puts it most simply when he writes:
I love myself...I love you.
I love you...I love myself.
So join me and let's faithe everyday, without fail and watch ourselves and the world grow in love. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
PS Here are the two Salutations we learned and practiced in backbending class this day.
4th Chakra Namaskar Hridaya Namaskar (Heart Salutation)
INHALE – Urdva Bhujangasana (Standing Backbend)
EXHALE— Uttanasana (Forward Fold-Hands Down Thighs)
INHALE – Eka Pada Prasarita Padottanasana (Standing Splits)
EXHALE - Ardha Anjaneyasana Right (Low Lunge) Prep
INHALE/EXHALE – Ardha Anjaneyasana Flow Side to Side
INHALE -- Ardha Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)-Back Bend full expression!
EXHALE –Anahatasana (Quarter Dog)
INHALE – Bhujapidasana (Cobra)
EXHALE – (Lay on Belly)
INHALE -- Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Up Dog)
EXHALE – Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog)
INHALE - Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana Left Leg (1 Leg Dog)
EXHALE - Ardha Anjaneyasana Right (Low Lunge) Prep
INHALE/EXHALE – Ardha Anjaneyasana Flow Side to Side
INHALE - Ardha Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)-Back Bend full expression!
EXHALE - Eka Pada Prasarita Padottanasana (Standing Splits)
INHALE/EXHALE – Uttanasana (Forward Fold-Hands Down Thighs)
INHALE – Urdva Bhujangasana (Standing Backbend)
*Repeat again but stand on left leg this time, step back right
5th Chakra Namaskar
INHALE - Upward Plank
EXHALE - Lower Hips
INHALE - Boat
EXHALE - Plow
INHALE - Tip Toe Pose Urdva Hasta Arm Position
EXHALE - Forward Fold Arms Fly Back Chin to Chest
INHALE - Tip Toe Pose to Camel
EXHALE - Camel backbend
INHALE - Place hands prepare
EXHALE - Plank to floor
INHALE – Cobra Low
EXHALE – Locust
INHALE – Bow no hands
EXHALE - Rest
INHALE – Cobra High
EXHALE - Downward Dog
INHALE - Jump to Sukhasana
IT’S YOUR LIFE, DON’T MISS IT!
March 25, 2011. The Buddha says we should “practice as if your hair was on fire.” This is such an amazing metaphor to remind us to wake up to our lives. This metaphor in no way implies panic or alarm. It encourages us stop treating life as a rehearsal for the future or ruminating over the past all the while not awake to present experience.
No better reason to come to the mat than to stoke our wakeful energy through movement and breath and by taking risks in experience new poses (like handstand). And what do we use to wake up? Our hearts first and foremost. For in the wards of Annie Dillliard “If we listened only to our intellect we’d never have a love affair, we’d never have a friendship, we’d never go into business, because we’d be too cynical. Well that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs ALL the time and build your wings on the way down.” Love yourself, love your day, love your life, Silvia
Day-O (Banana Boat Song), Harry Belafonte
Tangled Up In Blue, Bob Dylan
Good Day Sunshine, Beatles
Down on the Corner, Creedance Clearwater Revival
I Want You, Bob Dylan
I'm Outta Love, Anastacia
Rolling In the Deep, ADELE
Gangsta Nation, Nate Dogg
Sita Ram, Girish
Stir It Up, Bob Marley & The Wailers
Simple Twist of Fate, The Format
Ripple, Grateful Dead
Teach Your Children (live), Steve Acho
I'll Be Missing You, Puff Daddy Feat. Faith Evans & 112
Every Breath You Take, Carol Welsman
Peace, George Winston
COURAGE - FIRE PRACTICE
JUNE 7, 2010. Who is the most Courageous person you know? How do they inspire you to be more courageous? When was the time in your life you were MOST courageous?
All these self-observations and contemplations were the focus of or practice today. And who doesn’t need more courage. When I come to the mat to teach my intention for each student is that this practice helps them rise with courage to meet the challenges of their life. And yes we all face challenges. Judith Lasater a national yoga teacher, author and a personal hero of mine says, “Courage is the second most important quality to cultivate in life. (Right after love).”
It is easy to fall into believing the old stories about ourselves and getting stuck. Or as my friend Sadie Nardini says in her book Roadtrip Guide to the Soul, “Alongside positive change, challenge appears. You will confront old fears, old ways of being, as you drive through to your soul. Along the road to your best life possible, be prepared for delays. There will be potholes, irritating construction, and long stretches of open space where nothing seems to be happening. That’s life, imperfectly perfect. The lag times and frustrations are necessary to hone your discipline and commitment to your path.”
This much I know for sure, that to live life to its fullest means to risk being hurt. We cannot numb out or check out. Oh for certain comfortably numb will keep us from pain but we’ll never get to experience the joys of love and passion and excitement and happiness that are our birthright. Having the courage to really action the secrets of your heart will bring you to your fullest potential. It doesn’t make it less scary but isn’t the scariest thing not about having the courage to try and fall but more so not beginning to live at all?
Hey I get it. In April I finally took the risk and mustered up the courage to begin teaching Yoga Retreats. Does it take me away from the studio I love a little bit (well like 3-4 weeks a year)? Is that scary for me? YOU BET IT IS! But I know that by doing 3-4 retreats per year I not only help sustain the studio but I give myself the chance to try something I’ve always wanted to do. And that is to change the ecology of heart and mind for my beloved yoga students.
I come back a better teacher and I have more to offer everyone. So it’s a choice. You can use this practice to connect to your own best courage, open your heart and ride the biggest wave of your life or you can stay on shore and risk nothing. It’s up to you. May you rise up to meet the courage of your heart! Love the day, Silvia (I want to honor and humbly thank my teacher Shiva Rea for sharing with me the Agni Namaskar Fire practice we did today that I shared with you, pay if forward...)
So here's the theme: how Yoga is the practice of revealing yourself to yourself. The whole thing is about self-exploration. Hope you can rock with me with great music and fun flow to feel for yourself how “Exploration really is the essence of the human spirit.” Here are some favorite quotes that inspired this practice. I also emailed out the actual class plan that I hope you have enjoyed! Love in all ways, Silvia
Whenever there is a reaching down into innermost experience, into the nucleus of personality, most people are overcome by fear and many run away. . . The risk of inner experience, the adventure of the spirit, is in any case alien to most human beings. The possibility that such experience might have psychic reality is anathema to them. – Carl Jung
Creative people who can't help but explore other mental territories are at greater risk, just as someone who climbs a mountain is more at risk than someone who just walks along a village lane. – RD Laing
Every decision you make - every decision - is not a decision about what to do. It's a decision about Who You Are. When you see this, when you understand it, everything changes. You begin to see life in a new way. All events, occurrences, and situations turn into opportunities to do what you came here to do. - Neale Donald Walsch
If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative. - Woody Allen
INCONVENIENCES OF LIFE AND LOVE
Life is simple not easy says Jon Kabat Zinn. Nothing is promised to us as easy. Life requires effort and discipline mostly because we have a lot working against us in keeping us mindful and present, more all the time to be honest. So a certain amount of work is required. And this is what inspired me today. When Pema Chodran says Life is so inconvenient I said to myself YES! that’s true. I just never heard it said so straightforward like that before. The word inconvenient is very different than something like saying life is hard. And what I’ve also found to be true is that following our hearts, love itself is inconvenient.
Pema Chodran writes, “when you hear some teachings that ring true to you and feel some trust in its being a worthwhile way to live then you’re in for a lot inconvenience. From an everyday perspective it seems good to do things that are kind of convenient; there is no problem with that. It’s just that when you really start to take the warrior’s journey – which is to say, when you start to want to live your LIFE FULLY, when you begin to feel this passion for life and for growth, 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.”
This single teaching continues to resonate with me, not just the first time but in all the years since. To read more check out her book The Wisdom of No Escape.
Hey remember when we were kids on a road trip with our parents and from the back seat we’d ask, “are we there yet?” So why were we asking? The truth is that it’s easier to just stay home. It’s a lot more convenient, especially for our parents but they took us on the road anyway. My own parents not only took us around the
The waking up is inconvenient. Quite frankly waking up to one’s life is very inconvenient. But Pema goes on to say, “But what spiritual practice teaches is that once you know that the purpose of life is simply to walk forward and continually to use your life to wake up rather than put you to sleep, then there’s that sense of wholeheartedness about inconvenience, wholeheartedness about convenience. If we choose cozy, safe as our primary reason to exist then this becomes an obstacle for our very existence in trying to live fully where we take chances, offer ourselves to making new choices, take a risk, explore.”
COMFORT ORIENTATION MURDERS THE SPIRIT
When we are on the path, involved in our own pilgrimage its inconvenient to be on the road (as a road warrior in the corporate world traveling 70% of the time I know this) but staying home and avoiding life but not engaging it is the death of our spirit. It’s not easy but certainly it’s worth the inconvenience to dare the difficult.
It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare;
It is because we do not dare that they are difficult. Seneca 4 BCE – 65BCE
You guys, really if you think about it there are lots of inconveniences about life. It’s inconvenient to buy groceries, it’s inconvenient to make the bed each day, to brush our teeth, to prepare our meals, to get sick, to lose your job, to have your kids throw up on you, to get divorced, to get married, to clean the house, to get gas, to have a baby, it’s inconvenient to find yourself embarrassed or heart broken too. Tell me what do you think is convenient? And is that meaningful?
The thing is that if we want to love life we’ll learn that the inconvenience is not the obstacle. Of course we’re going to get “poked and prodded like someone’s laughing in your ear, challenging you to figure out what to do when you don’t know what to do. It humbles you. It opens your heart.” (Chodran) And when it comes down to it I’d rather have my heart opened up then live life tight in the bud. I’d rather have something spectacular on my tombstone when this life ends than to have written, “had great health insurance and lived an ok life” So please really sit with this and see how it can change your life as it has mine. Love your day, your life, yourself! Silvia
The way of experience
Let me use suspense as material for perseverance;
Let me use danger as material for courage;
Let me use reproach as material for long suffering;
Let me use praise as material for humility;
Let me use pleasure as material for temperance;
Let me use pain as material for endurance.
-John Baillie (1886-1960)
HOPE: HOW YOGA PREPARES US FOR CRISIS
APRIL 10TH, 2009: There has been a lot written about how yoga can help modulate the stress response. A great article in Harvard Mental Health April 2009 edition goes into wonderful detail about this. Key points made from this article include "yoga practices can reduce the impact of exaggerated stress responses and may be helpful for both anxiety and depression. By reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga appers to modulate stress response. This in turn decreases physiological arousal - for example reduicng the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration. For many dealing with stress yoga may be a very appealing way to better manage symptoms. Indeed, the scientifc study of yoga demonstrates that mental and physical health are not just closely allied, but are essentially equivalent."
So what this says, which yogis have known, is that we practice yoga today to help us manage the crisis we might face tomorrow. It might seem weird to think of ourselves preparing for challenges but it makes sense that the best time to prepare for a crisis is BEFORE it happens. In class we try out various poses to create sometimes stressful situations (for instance a new pose, a pose with lots of sensation, transitions from pose to pose) and we observe how we respond. We practice responding to the crisis in other words. So then we can diagnose ourselves in our own crisis management. How would you do?
Do you lose hope when faced with something new? Do you respond to trying and failing with self criticism, do you give up? Do you get mad at the pose, at the teacher, at God? It is easy to give up hope. But the sobering reality is that if we give up, we are mentally and physically impacted.
Einstein says, "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." The worst thing we can do is lose hope, stop risking living our lives fully become fearful or worse yet apathetic. Apathy is the enemy of love. And yet in these sometimes trying times so many of us have lost hope. So consider this "To lvoe is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing."
I understand, I used to have the false belief that if I "did life right" everything would be smooth sailing and I'd be protected from anything bad or unpleasant. Then my Dad died suddenly trhough hospital negligence, then other family members became sick, my corporate job was in jeapordy. And I realized everything we are learning today is preparing us for tomorrow's crisis. Yoga won't stop stress. It will help us manage stuff that happens to us. There lies the difference. And it asks that we have the quiet courage to remain hopeful above all else.
An unknown author writes, "May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trails to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, enough HOPE to make you happy." So dudes, breathe HOPE because you know without a doubt that your YOGA practice will prepare you for any difficulty you face! With humble love and enormous gratitude, Silvia