Tuesday, November 29, 2011

You Are Always Practicing SOMETHING

This past weekend in my yoga classes, I shared a quote by the writer Carlos Castaneda.  He said, "The trick is in what one emphasizes.  We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy.  The amount of work is the same."

We are always practicing something.  Whether we notice it or not, we are telling ourselves certain stories about our experiences and how we're feeling.  This week I asked my students to focus on making their yoga practice a positive space in their lives, to make it a place where they practiced making themselves happy.  It is such a blessing to have a space where you can be yourself, feel safe, and find perspective.  Let your yoga mat be such a place.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Yoga is Your Natural State

This week I'm talking a bit about this beautiful quote:

You cannot do yoga.  Yoga is your natural state.  What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.  -- Sharon Gannon (one of the founders of Jivamukti Yoga)

You are already whole.  You are already perfect.  You are already everything that you need.

How difficult is it for us to accept statements like these?  For me, it can feel pretty weird to think this way.  I'm not used to it.  We're constantly striving to be something else, or something more - something we think is better.  But when you bring yourself to a place of awareness, you can cultivate a feeling of wholeness and begin to explore this idea that yoga is your natural state.

When you observe the thoughts that come up while on your yoga mat, do your best to witness them without judging yourself.  What you learn about yourself on your mat can transform your daily life. 

What comes up for you when you're resisting a pose?  Can you change things if you take a deep breath and surrender into the discomfort?  How do you react when you're unhappy with the teacher, or distracted by the person next to you?  What do you say internally when you can't get into a pose?  Observe these things, but don't criticize yourself when you notice negative thoughts or a wandering mind.  Just be a witness.

And know that each time you bring your mind to the present moment -- whether it's to focus on an inhale breath, to concentrate on lifting through the arch of your left foot, or to soften your gaze -- you give yourself something of great value.  The present moment is the most important thing you have.  I often tell people that my yoga practice brings me instant perspective.  Unimportant concerns and negative emotions are stripped away as awareness and gratitude inevitably creep in.  Even more powerful, this positivity and strength begin traveling beyond the yoga room and into the rest of your life.