Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Layers are in!

The cool thing about Anusara yoga, the thing of many of course, is how we layer refinements on refinements to further enhance the beauty of each pose. It’s amazing to me that the poses I do every day are never boring, there’s always another place to go with them, another level of refinement to add. It’s tough, definitely but so worth it. My practice is an ever evolving process of self discovery and the very cool thing is that I get to practice with anyone because yoga will always meet us where we are.
This isn’t something I ever want to lose, I don’t think that would even be possible at this stage, it’s just too fascinating to delve deep, draw in more, expand that one last step. Most days I just can’t wait to get on my mat and explore this, to figure out what’s important to me in that moment and put my whole heart and soul there. And it works. I recently was studying with some Danish teachers, it was towards the end of the day and we were all a bit tired, they defaulted back to teaching in Danish. It was such a fascinating experience how instructions linked with heart qualities really did expand the experience. I came out of the pose way sooner than the Danes. It was a real lesson as to how powerful this stuff is, I always want to practice and teach by offering it up to something higher. It just works.

Silence please!

I’ve been experimenting over the last couple of days with silence. It’s pretty hard for me as I’m pretty verbose at the best of times. However, what I’ve found is that by turning in and listening I actually do a lot more. Weird huh? So for me, here’s how that works. Wherever I am I try and tune into the silence. I’ve really noticed how much inner dialogue is going on and when I switch it off for a bit, how much more clarity I get, how I’m not bombarded with my own thoughts, judgments, preconceptions on the matter. It’s not like I’m trying to stop my thoughts, that would be pretty impossible. Rather, I’m looking at getting better at discriminating them: which are simply based on a preconceived set of notions and past experience and which are there as guidance for growth?

I’ve found that I can only really do this by being quiet inside. By being honest with myself. By allowing the stuff which I’m trying to mask with all of the bombardment of thoughts bubble up to the surface. And some days it’s not very nice. For me though, what’s the alternative? I don’t want to feel like I’m ever done, a complete package of spiritual enlightenment. How boring would that be and how on earth would I teach it if I didn’t remember the route back? It’s true, once we get on this roller coaster ride, there ain’t no getting off!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Bringing the inside out

Most days I feel like I’m a pretty lucky girl. However, today, I feel even more fortunate. I’ve been studying with my teacher in Copenhagen for a week. There are so many things that I’ve learnt that it’s going to take a substantial amount of time for me to process them, probably a lifetime. I guess that’s why they call it a process. I suspect that each time someone asks me what I’ve learnt I’ll come up with something different. I’ve received so much that I want to share, it really is my Dharma to share it. That’s why today especially I feel like the world’s luckiest lady.

We talked a lot about the transformative power of yoga. Every person in that room has felt it, the sense of tapping into something far greater than ourselves, then being uplifted by those currents. We were all on the same page, it was honestly beautiful. However, the idea of how to express that to those around us is somehow more tricky. That’s where the work comes in, on our mats, cushions and in life. How do we take what we’ve felt and make this real for someone else. I’ve felt it, so I know it’s there, I’ve felt created it in my own practice, now my challenge is start to express it to others with authenticity, from my heart. It’s practice, a work in progress and I hope I’ll never be done with it. I’m pretty excited about it :)

Monday, 22 August 2011

Unpacking the Sutras

It’s been a hectic few weeks for me what with one thing or another, I’ve definitely been having a whale of a time! I’ve decided to take this approaching autumn time to begin to turn in and reconnect with the roots of yoga. For me right now this means the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The Sutras for me are what draws all lineages back to their source. We talk a lot about different styles, philosophies or practices of yoga. However, at its source it’s all one and through the sutras we can return again and again to the essence of yoga.
There are many stories about who Patanjali was and even whether he existed at all. What we do know is that we’re left with 196 pithy sentences which reveal to us the practice of yoga. Suture, the medical word for stitching, is derived from Sutra and in it gives us some idea of the meaning. The ability to pack meaning into few words so that the Sutras could be memorised by heart and their full meaning revealed over time.
That’s why I return again and again to the Sutras. Because there’s always something new to find, I’ve changed and my circumstances have changed. That’s why each time I return I get something new and I get to reconnect with yogis of old and express this yoga in my own unique way.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Resting in what is

I’ve been so lucky this week to teach a wide variety of people, new and old students, to reconnect with lots of friends and really just have a blast in life. There is something completely freeing about aligning yourself with something higher, placing your whole heart there and then letting it go. Living in the moment is something we talk a lot about and it’s pretty difficult to get your head around unless you have some kind of practice. I’m really enjoying Christina Sell’s new book, My Body is a Temple which (amongst many other things and since I haven’t got to the end yet I can’t tell you what they are!) discusses the idea of practice as a necessary part of spiritual practice.

She describes Carlos Pomeda’s view that spirituality when it’s focused solely on academia is like being able to read a recipe without knowing how to cook it or being able to enjoy the food. The academic side of spirituality is fantastic and we definitely need a thorough grounding there, however, it feels a bit like you’re short changing yourself to not engage in some kind of practice. And why would you want do that? The answer is that we get cloaked, we get cloaked by all kinds of things and we lose our sense intrinsic goodness. The good news is that it’s always there, whether you choose to notice it or not. Then once you re-find it and the cloaks start to peel away, it’s like magic and you get to live in what is, what is now and then you get to enjoy each moment so much more.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Unchanging change

There’s lots of contemplation happening with me at the moment and I find myself drawn into some really deep hip opening poses, repeating them over and over to see what new things will be reveled. This is odd since we’d usually associate this class of pose with the spring and autumn, when change is naturally occurring. That’s because hip openers can really affect significant change and growth in our lives, aligning beautifully with those tumultuous periods between summer and winter.

That being said, there’s always change happening, as the joke goes it’s the only thing which is consistent. There are big shifts happening in my own life and practice. It’s exciting but it’s also a delicate balancing act. When we have responsibilities and relationships we need to grow and expand within the boundaries that exist.

This is why I’m challenging myself with ever deeper hip openers at the moment. There’s stuff I’m ready to deal with now, stuff which I want to face and my practice has lead to. I know it’s not going to be an easy ride but the path of the heart isn’t always easy. It’s just that at some point we get so far there is no turning back. Something changed which can’t be unchanged.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Listen, tweak, refine

I’ve been all caught up with the 3As of Anusara yoga for the last week. It always makes me so happy how simple it is and yet how deep you can go with them. It’s been something I’ve been playing with in my own practice this week as I try to pull all the As into a wonderful triad and figure out in my head how each interplays with the other.

I reckon self practice is the perfect place to demo the 3As. It’s like that rectangle of rubber is a little laboratory where you get to test out your Attitude and Alignment with a little bit of Action. Thing is, you can’t really tell whether you’re Attitude or Alignments on unless you test it, that’s where Action comes in. You kind of just have to do it and see how it feels. It’s in the listening, tweaking and refining comes the inner wisdom to “just know” what feels right, to be able to turn off that inner voice for just a moment and listen to your heart. That’s where the yoga is, turning inside and listening to your intuition, you know when you’ve got it, that’s when life suddenly aligns with you and all is clear.

For a bit, but we’re on our mat so we get to listen, tweak and refine all over again J

Monday, 1 August 2011

A comedy of As

I caught a documentary about Eddie Izzard, one of my favourite comedians the other day. Not only is he very funny but also seriously inspirational for me. A very short bio, he spent 10 years doing all kinds of stuff from street performance to appearing the Edinburgh Festival to comparing. He was doing all this whilst the world told him he wasn’t a performer and he should go do something else.

That got me thinking about the 3As of Anusara yoga. How strong must your Attitude be to know yourself so strongly that you can follow your heart when the rest of the world is telling you not to? How many times must you have to re-find centre with 10 years of getting knocked back time and again? Then just to keep on doing no matter what. That’s what I mean, love him or loathe him, it’s pretty motivating stuff.

I love the way the 3As flow into each other, none of them work without the others to balance, so your path becomes not too soft, not too hard but just right! And bless Eddie, he keeps redefining his own boundaries, keeps pushing beyond what anyone thought possible. Who doesn’t want a bit more of that self belief in their life?