Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My 2 cents worth......

"Hey, did you hear yoga is bad for you now?" That's the greeting I got from my husband when I got home from work the other day. He was referring to the NY Times article about how yoga wrecks your body. Just like most things I think are non-sense, I didn't pay much attention. Unfortunately, just like most things that I think are non-sense, it doesn't ever go away.

So, in case there hasn't already been enough commentary on the topic I figured I'd add my 2 cents worth.

Let me ask you a question......If a zebra steps onto a yoga mat isn't he/she still a zebra? If an aggressive, competitive person steps onto the yoga mat isn't he/she still an aggressive, competitive person? If a person is an adrenalin junkie off the mat he'll still be looking for the adrenalin rush when he steps on the mat.

The yoga mat does not have magical powers of transformation. It's the conscious practice of yoga that contains the magical powers. Let me repeat that.... It's the CONSCIOUS practice of yoga that contains the magical powers.

Do you remember baby walkers? When my oldest was a baby I used a walker all the time. I loved it and so did she. By the time my second, Tayler, was born the walker had been deemed a danger to babies. Really?? It wasn't the walker that was dangerous it was the unconscious parents who put their babies in them and then didn't watch them that caused the injuries to the babies.

It's the same with yoga. It's not yoga that's the problem it's the unconscious people who practice without paying attention to their body that's the problem.

If a jack-ass decides it's a good idea to ride his bike into a brick wall will bicycles be considered dangerous?? If a jack-ass decides to take yoga classes and hurt himself is it yoga that's dangerous? NO! A jack-ass is still a jack-ass even when he wears fancy yoga pants and carries a Jade yoga mat.

Come on people..... Don't you think it's time for people to take responsibility for their own actions? Do we really need a warning label to tell us that the food should be taken out of the plastic wrapper before we put it in the oven? Do we need another label to tell us that the food will be hot after we take it out of the hot oven?

When did we stop using common sense?? If you have a shoulder or neck injury do I really need to tell you that practicing shoulder stand is not recommended?! If you are a hot-headed person with high blood pressure what would make you think that taking hot yoga would be a good idea?

Besides people!! Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years. It wasn't until we started using it for purposes other than what it was intended for that people started getting injured. Remember that yoga is to be used as part of an eight fold path to enlightenment.  If you use yoga instead as an excuse to hang from the ceiling from a silk scarf - you may get injured. If you use a bicycle as a boat - you may get injured. Duh......

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A call to action

I went to see a vedic astrologer once. Twice actually. (The first one said things that were so far fetched that I didn't believe him so I went for a second opinion.) So the meeting with the second astrologer started like this: I sit down in front of this lady who I never met before. The only thing she knows about me is the exact time and place of my birth. She looks at me over the rim of her glasses and says "This is a VERY important lifetime in your spiritual evolution.....What are you doing about it?!"

What?? What am I doing about it? I thought that's what she was suppose to tell me...what I'm suppose to be doing.

Well, it's been a few years since then and I'm still asking myself that same question. Have you asked yourself that question? At first I pondered this question and I was feeling my ego, once again, inflated thinking that I'm way further along on the "yoga path" toward enlightenment. Obviously! That's what the astrologer said (not really but that's what my ego heard)

Here's the reality. EVERY Lifetime is equally important to our spiritual evolution!! Duh.... A way better question would be "what are you doing to effect positive change?" Or "what have you done today to serve others?" Or even, "what are you doing to share what you've learned in this lifetime with others?"

Disclaimer: I am not an expert in yoga philosophy. Simply a spiritual seeker. What am I seeking? Eternal  Truth.  Here's what I know for sure.

In yoga-land there's a lot of talk about the fact that we've entered into a new age. An Aquarian age. Which basically means that the universal energy is shifting from masculine energy to feminine energy. The discussion in this morning's yoga class was how we know this in our minds but that it hasn't translated so much into practice yet. We are still holding onto old patterns. We know that we need to change our patterns of thinking and our patterns of doing but so far it hasn't translated into action just yet. What's holding us back??

Fear, I suppose. Fear of the unknown. Fear of stepping out of our comfort zone. Fear of letting go because if we let go what will we have?

It's clear that the old patterns no longer work. Now we are required to find another way. What exactly does this shift in energy mean really? What's the difference between masculine energy and feminine energy? Well, where masculine energy is more aggressive, feminine energy is softer. Where masculine energy is more about acting from the mind, feminine energy is more about acting from the heart.

Keeping these qualities in mind for a moment, think about a situation that you are currently struggling with. You know that your old pattern of handling the situation isn't working anymore. Why not try the opposite. Move from your head to year heart. Shift your energy so that you are approaching the situation more from a place of softness and compassion than from the usual aggressive "I have to be right" attitude. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. (if nothing else, you'll gain insight into your own patterns)

There comes a time when the concepts and ideas that we talk about in yoga class need to move from the thought process to the action process. It's not enough to say love and serve. We must put it into action. I saw a lady in the pet store struggling to get a gigantic box of cat litter into her cart. A couple of men walked right passed her without a second thought. Fascinating..... I lent her a hand and we managed to get the box into the cart. Perhaps the men were stronger physically but in the end it didn't matter did it? Seemed to me that the strength of the heart is way more useful.

How often have you seen someone struggling? Not just physically but mentally or emotionally as well. How often have you acted from your heart and offered your help. It doesn't matter if think you are not strong enough as long as you exercise your heart every day the strength you need will always be enough.

The first astrologer told me that it was my duty in this lifetime to share the word of God with others. That's what I'm doing with this blog, I guess.  So now I'm looking over the rim of my glasses and asking you....."This is a very important lifetime in your spiritual evolution....What are you doing about it??!!"

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Message of the day: Learn Humility

Am I fighting a losing battle trying to teach "real" yoga?  That was my first thought when my friend Jon emailed me an advertisement for a new computer called  The Yoga computer.  That really was my first thought!   I was so frustrated that once again, someone was using yoga to sell stuff that had nothing to do
with yoga.  I even emailed my teacher to ask him, "are we fighting a losing battle trying to teach "real" yoga?" HA HA HA!! 

At lunch today I went to Barnes and Noble to look around for nothing in particular.  Of course I ended up in the Eastern Religion section.  One book jumped out at me but I put it back on the shelf.  I wanted something deeper.  After all, I am a yoga teacher aren't I?  I can't waste my time reading fluffy books.  I need to learn as much as I can so that I can TEACH!! HA HA HA!! Yes folks, I was actually thinking these thoughts today. 

Long story short, the book practically jumped off the shelf and before I knew it I was reading  "The Guru Question, the perils and rewards of choosing a spiritual teacher"  by Mariana Caplan, PhD. 
I've only read about 25 pages and already I got the message I was meant to get.   She starts the book by talking about the different types of spiritual teachers and she tells a funny story about how a friend of hers was upset  because he had declared himself a spiritual teacher and he couldn't figure out how to attract students.   He thought that others just didn't get him now that he was enlightened.  I laughed when I read this thinking.... What a creep....of course no students wanted him as a teacher.... Anyone who has to declare himself  an enlightened spiritual teacher obviously isn't...Right??  Doesn't everyone agree on that?

Now, I have never proclaimed myself to be enlightened but I have to admit that my ego does play tricks on me sometimes.  Like today, I was feeling that self-righteous attitude.  Of course I'm a way better yoga teacher than those guys because I feel like I teach authentic yoga and not that cheesy exercise yoga.  I'm not using yoga to sell a bunch of junk that no-one needs.  I teach the benefits of meditation and the "inner yoga" practices.  Doesn't that make me a better teacher?

OH, HOLY HELL!!!  My ego needed a smack today!!!  It's sort of shocking how easily my ego,  if left unchecked, gets inflated.   Okay, God..... I got the message.  I still have a long way to go!! 

Om Shanti Om......

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!!!

If you've watched even 10 minutes of TV over the last week you know by now that your life is a mess, right?  Every commercial is telling you so, therefore, it must be true.  With so many products guaranteed to improve our lives it's hard to know where to begin.   I even saw a commercial that  guaranteed to remove the stress of blow drying my hair.  Who knew that blow drying our hair could be so stressful??  I didn't even know I was stressed about that.  Thank you info-mmerical for pointing that out.....

Even if you are feeling pretty good about yourself I would guess that after a few commercials you probably started wondering about the condition of your life.  Was having to hold the blow dryer for 5 minutes really causing you stress?  Maybe I do need that DVD that will give me the body of my dreams in just 10 minutes a day.  What about the commercial that guarantees you lose 30 pounds in 30 days without changing your eating or exercising... Hell, sign me up for that one!!  Oh.....maybe I really do need that purse that is going to organize my life so that I'm not stressing out about finding my hairbrush while driving down the road.

NONSENSE!!!  It's all nonsense! 

Here's my take on all this New Year's resolutions nonsense.  The more I focus on all things in my life that aren't working, the more things I find that aren't working.  My first real yoga teacher, Robert, used to say
"That which you put your attention on grows stronger in your life."  With that in mind, do you want to continue thinking about all things in your life that bring you stress?  Hell NO!!  That would only generate more stress.....

May I suggest something that really will improve your life?  It's simple and totally free.....Shift your perspective.  It's that simply.  Instead of looking at the things in your life that aren't working, shift the thoughts to those things in your life that are working. 

Make your New Year's resolution to reflect back over the past year and acknowledge all the good things you've done in your life.   Reflect on the things that have brought you joy and resolve to do more of that.
What improvements, even teeny tiny small improvement, have you made in your life already? Let your attention be on the those things that you have accomplished and notice the feeling of gratitude.  How does that feel?  Give your attention to joy and gratitude...... Now, those are things  I'd like to attract more of  into my life.  What about you?

You know how when you're meditating and thought comes into your mind, you start struggling against the thought?  You start trying to push the thought away.  You analyze the thought.  You get angry at the thought......Soon instead of meditating you are "chewing mental chewing gum" (as Ed would say).
But we are taught that when a thought enters the mind during meditation we simply allow the thought to come and allow it go bringing our attention back to the mantra.

In the same way, stress is going to come into our lives. We can't help it.  Don't be fooled by those crazy commercials. There is no way to eliminate stress completely.  So we treat it the same as we do the thoughts during meditation.  We acknowledge the stress and then let it  go.  Bringing our focus back to the mantra... i.e... those things that bring us a feeling of joy and gratitude. 

Simply by changing our perspective, the joy and gratitude grow and our stress level decreases.....I guarantee it..... "The first 10 people to sign up for this AMAZING offer will reach enlightenment in 30 days or your money back!!"   Oh...... sorry I couldn't resist.  It might take a bit longer than 30 days but still worth the effort.