Yoga with Mirella Nicholson

Yoga with Mirella Nicholson

Saturday, January 26, 2013

It's the dance.....

Ayurvedically speaking, my physical and mental make up is primarily kapha .  (This isn't going to be a lesson on Ayurveda...for that I invite you to visit my teacher's web-site:  My kapha nature makes me very loyal, sometimes to a fault.  It's what's responsible for my "motherly" ways of always wanting to take care of people, sometimes even when they don't want to be taken care of.   Kapha gives me strength, both physically and mentally.  The fact that my constitution is kapha means that I can take a lot of abuse... I'm strong... I can take it.   But sometimes, even kapha falls apart.  

As Ayurveda teachers we are taught to treat vata types like delicate flowers
                                                                    pitta types like a friend
                                                                    kapha types like an enemy

But sometimes, even kapha needs to be treated like a delicate flower and like a friend.  Pay attention to the people in your life who seem to be the strongest because they too need support. 

It seems the more I practice yoga/medication the more sensitive I become to the harshness that surrounds me.  The harsh manner in which people talk to each other.  Sometimes on purpose and other times just from being distracted or thoughtless.   The last few weeks the energy I've been feeling has been very intense.  I feel it in my own consciousness and I've experienced it from other people.  It's harder to deal with when the harshness comes from those people closest to us.  Even the weather this last week has been harsh.  It's been bitter cold and snowy.

This morning I got to the studio early.  While I waited for students to arrive I turned on the heat.  I put on some soft, gentle music, I lit some candles, pausing for a moment to notice the soft glow of the flame.  I bow to Ganesha....who surely knows the struggles of kapha.

I rolled out a mat, connect to the soft, gentle flow of my breath.  With my attention turned inward and my eyes closed, I began to move.  With each exhalation I felt the harshness of the outside world melt away.  With each inhalation I felt the softness of my breath supporting and nurturing me.  It's the beautiful, rhythmic dance between the body and the breath that heals and supports. 

It's not the teachers, it's not the studio, it's not the fancy yoga pants.  It's the dance.  The dance between the body and the breath that heals and supports.  Even kapha types need soft, gentle, loving support sometimes.   The beauty of being a kapha type is that we are natural caregivers.  We sometimes forget to take care ourselves with as much kindness and love that we take care of others.

As teachers of Ayurveda we must remember that underneath the label of kapha is still a person who needs loving support and not just the harsh treatment of an enemy.   Even the strongest kapha has her breaking point.
Jai Ganesha
 (google image)

Monday, January 21, 2013

A prayer to Kali-Ma!

The best part of my morning commute to work is passing a local business that always has the best quotes on their sign.  Some quotes are so great that I actually write them down.   Like this one:

"We want to be humble but we're afraid no one will notice"

How true is that statement? I was reminded of  this quote today after seeing some ego driven posts on facebook.  My first reaction to someone who's being incredibly egotistical is to get angry.  "What a jack-ass!" is usually my reaction.  Now, don't get me wrong... I know I have an ego just as much as the next guy but at least I TRY to keep my ego in check.   And when I can't get my ego in check myself I can depend on my friends to remind me when  I'm the one being the jack-ass.

After my usual rant of  "WHAT A JACK-ASS!!"  my friend, Jon reminded me with a gentle  "C'mon, he's a real person."  I needed to take a look at myself and my reaction to said Jack-ass....I mean real person.  

What exactly motivates such strong negative reaction  in me when someone else's ego is so inflated?  Why does it bother me so much?  Why does my blood boil at other people's bad behavior?   These are some of the questions I'm asking myself tonight.  

Here's the ugly truth I uncovered:

1.  Envy.  I envy their ability for shameless self-promotion.
2.  Self-righteousness.  I have strong values and morals and I feel that everyone else should too.
3   Respect.  My perceived lack of respect for teachers.
4.  Humility.  I believe it's the foundation for spiritual practice and feel frustrated when people act as though
     it's optional. 

Listen, I know I'm not perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination, but COME ON people!! How can you preach letting go of the ego in one post and then proclaim your greatness in the next?  How can you preach oneness while you work tirelessly to elevate yourself above others?  
Let's not forget Kali-Ma.   If you don't offer up your ego willingly she will cut off your head!! 

Jai Kali-Ma..... I offer my ego and my self-righteous attitude to you willing and I pray that you illuminate my consciousness whenever I may be acting as bad as said Jack-ass...I mean real person.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I saw a sign on the way to work the other day that read "May your troubles last only as long as your New Year's resolutions" Seeing this sign was even more hilarious considering what was going on in my mind that morning.

I've become very aware of my mental patterns. I am totally a creature of habit,  once I start something new and do it 3 or 4 times suddenly a new habit is created. This can be a good thing if the new habit is positive. Unfortunately, not all my mental patterns or habits are positive. "It takes 40 days to create a new habit"  is what I've been told. What I want to know is:

How many days does it take to un-do a negative habit???

This past week or so I've witnessed both my negative and positive mental patterns at work. Again I'm wondering why anyone watches realty tv when there's so much interesting stuff going on in our minds to watch.

Here's a glimpse into the "reality" show that was playing in my mind:

I've set the intention that this is the year that I take control of my life (don't laugh! I'm serious). Yes, I know that I am not the general contractor of the universe BUT my Ayurveda studies have taught me that I do have some control over my physical and mental well-being. That's what I intent to get under control. I am learning the tools that will keep me in an optimal state of health both mentally and physically.

New habits are being formed. I am feeling good about my choices and I'm grateful for my addictive nature since it has helped me become addicted to the new, positive changes. I'm grateful that I have just the right amount of pitta nature that motivates me to get things done and accomplish the goals I set out to accomplish.

Changing physical patterns seems a lot easier than changing mental patterns!!

The mental patterns seems more ingrained. The roots are deeper and stronger. This is where the real work needs to happen. Ayurveda teaches that the mind creates the body. In order to change the body, not just the physical body but also our physical experiences, we need to change the mind.

HOLY HELL!! Being a creature of habit is NOT a good thing when it comes to changing the mind. One mental pattern in particular is troubling me this morning.  I have witnessed it come up over and over the last couple of weeks.  I really thought that I had changed this mental pattern but clearly I haven't. 

I recognize that this mental pattern has been holding me back for years but it's roots are so deep.  I suspect that the roots were planted many lifetimes ago.  It may be impossible to trace back the cause but it's clear that it needs to change.  It's the HOW that's troubling me.

What I do know is that if the roots of a plant are not feed and taken care of the plant won't grow.  Perhaps the same principles apply here.  If I don't feed the mental pattern maybe the root will eventual die.

Change your mind......Change your life

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Happy New Year!! we are... at the start of a new year.  Most people view this time of the year as a time to reflect on the last year and set new intentions or resolutions for the year ahead.  This is the time we resolve to get fit and lose weight. This is the time to get organized.  This is the time to start living the life we always wanted.  Perhaps while we're reflecting on the last year we may want to reflect on why we are resolving to make the same changes year after year.   What is it that keeps us stuck in our same old patterns and habits? 

This year, instead of making the same old resolutions that fade before Santa has made it back to the North Pole, contemplate these two questions.  What is it that you value? and What is it that brings you joy? 

What do you value?
What brings you joy?

When these questions were asked of me I was taken aback.  I was actually speechless.  No one had ever asked me these questions and honestly, I don't know that I've ever given either of them much serious thought.  (shocking... right?) 

 After much contemplation and reflection I have identified some of my core values to be:

* Honesty
* Integrity
* Strong work ethic
* Self-less service
* Loyalty
* Devotion to family, friends and of course, God

Identifying and articulating your core values provides you with a guide to make sure that your actions and behavior are in line with those core values.  

What brings me joy?  Let's start by defining the word joy.  The webster's dictionary says:

1a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety

2: a state of happiness or felicity : bliss

3: a source or cause of delight 

Think.... Pure delight. 

Just yesterday I was telling my friend, Jon how much I miss having my head filled with cotton candy in yoga-land.  I've been missing that feeling of pure joy and delight.  My head and heart have been rather heavy lately.  I forget sometimes but now I remember what brings me joy:

* Spending time with my family
* The sound of my children laughing
* Roller Skating with my friend Rose
* The feel of my yoga mat first thing in the morning
* Watching the sun rise and set
* Gazing at the moon
* The total silence after everyone has gone to sleep
* Teaching yoga
* Studying yoga/Ayurveda
* Losing myself in a wonderful book

I could go on and on but I'll end now so that I can experience the joy of crawling under the warm covers of my bed!!  This year resolve to remember what you value most in life and even more importantly remember what brings you joy. 

I have a feeling that if we experienced more pure joy in our lives we probably wouldn't need to resolve to lose weight every January. After all, it's the feeling of unhappiness and discontent that causes us to indulge in addictive behaviors like over-eating which leads to the perpetual New Year's resolutions. 

Om Shanti Om!  Om Shanti Om! Om Shanti Om! Om Shanti Om! Om Shanti Om! Om Shanti Om!