Taking the Middle Road

During this past week, I have been considering the concept of moderation. It is so easy to fall into habits and extremes – mostly when it comes to diet, sleep and work. Many of us choose to see things as black or white, yes or no, never or always, right or wrong, too much or not enough…the correlations are virtually endless with this idiom which makes it understandable and relatable in many situations. Deep awareness and dedication are required to keep steering ourselves toward that middle road.

I have taken my yoga practice in moderation this week by applying the principles of yin yoga. When doing my initial research for teaching many years ago, I stumbled across the term “Goldilocks principle” or “position” as defined by Bernie Clark. It means just as the storybook explains, not doing too much, nor doing too little. Yin yoga is a very good practice to hone the concept of moderation. It permits you to judge for yourself how deeply you would like to descend into a posture. It is good preparation for knowing the difference between “stressing” the body and “pushing” the body – keep in mind that stressing the connective tissue is the intention behind yin yoga. If you want to learn more about the theory behind the practice, click here.

In general, yoga has taught me that too much flexibility is just as damaging as too much strengthening – one can lead to instability and the other, rigidity. You need to practice with both principles in your sights in order to be healthy and balanced.

If you have never heard of yin yoga or are unfamiliar with the asanas of yoga in general, then consider the concept of moderation with other activities that you do on a regular basis. An interesting examination would be to measure how much you overload the senses with screen time. This is a very common way that we tend to unconsciously overdose ourselves.

The remedy to balance and get back on the middle road is to generate awareness. I find spending time walking outdoors to be the best treatment for avoiding extreme routines. Communing with nature is equalizing, centering and definitely gives me a wiser perspective. It allows me to think more openly – in technicolor, rather than merely black or white.

As promised, I am now using this blog to supplement my new book, Yoga Posts: Building a Steady Yoga Practice One Day at a Time. This week’s post refers back to Chapter #11: A Modicum of Moderation. If you wish to start at the beginning of our journey, please look to my first post.

The Simple Things in Life

What is your object of desire? What do wish you had that would make things so much better for you? More importantly, what do you already possess that you can learn to appreciate more?

Moving is always a good time for reevaluating your possessions. Do you really need #$@&%*! pairs of shoes? And, is it worth packing and unpacking all of those dishes and glasses and coffee mugs?

Continue reading “The Simple Things in Life”

Keep it Real

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Looking into someone’s eyes is as real as it gets. If you’ve ever been in deep love, staring into your partner’s eyes can be one of the most profound and genuine experiences. Likewise, a teacher or guru’s gleaming eye contact has the potential to communicate heartfelt devotion from across a room.

There are many examples of sayings and proverbs that refer to the eyes as the seat of sincerity:

The eyes have it.

The eyes are the windows to the soul.

Seeing eye to eye.

The eyes don’t lie.

So it seems that our eyes mirror our truth. On the contrary, what happens when we find it hard to be honest? Don’t we tend to avert our gaze? Or, how about those times when we try to pull the wool over someone’s eyes? Or, turn a blind eye?

Continue reading “Keep it Real”

Using the Eight Limb System of Yoga to Construct a Personal Practice

As you build a personal yoga practice, it’s wise to start with a strong foundation. For this we can turn to the original structure of yoga. Its 8-limb system is arranged to give us a sturdy base upon which to build a dedicated practice.

For those of you who are unfamiliar or need a refresher, the original system of yoga is comprised of 8 different sections or parts: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. They translate from Sanskrit as: restraints, observances, postures, breathing, sense-withdrawal, concentration, meditation and contemplation.

Continue reading “Using the Eight Limb System of Yoga to Construct a Personal Practice”

A Practice Before Practice

Namasté Friends! As promised, I am now using this blog to supplement my new book, Yoga Posts: Building a Steady Yoga Practice One Day at a Time. In book club fashion, this will be our space to reflect on each chapter’s challenge and the ways we honor it throughout the week. Please look to my last post to get more information on what to expect.

Here are my reflections for Week #1. The book’s first challenge provides us with a baseline to forge ahead in creating or reestablishing a personal yoga practice. No matter where we are coming from or where or we are going, regardless of the stage of life we are in and despite the types of burdens or expectations we hold onto – we are all starting here.

We begin by inviting ourselves to stand open. Although it appears simple, this first step is the most complex because it has many layers. In order to be clear, you must peel away the coverings that bind you and make you rigid. Like the stalk of lemongrass I used in my cooking this week – you need to eliminate the hard shell to access the soft core.

For myself, I am meditating on releasing my burdens by placing all of the guilt, anger and resentment I currently possess into an imaginary backpack. Each morning, I visualize myself carrying the backpack up a big grassy knoll, taking it off my shoulders and setting it down. Turning away from it, I imagine lying down on the cool, inviting grass. Then I visualize myself rolling wildly down the hill like I used to do as a child. It’s a wonderful way to release and let go!

One last note, this past weekend, I started reading a book that was gifted to me by one of my students called Drinking from the River of Light by Mark Nepo. I came across a passage that is so relevant to our studies that I would like to share it with you:

“We can work long, hard hours with a dull mind or a calloused heart. Or, we can pause to sharpen our mind and refresh our heart. These efforts to be clear and touchable are part of the practice before practice.”

Enjoy your week and the clarity you receive! ☮️

And, please leave your comments and insights below so we can truly share this experience! 🙏🏼

How I Became Part of the Whole

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“When I first began to study yoga I thought that samadhi was a trancelike state which would take the practitioner away from everyday consciousness to a better state of being. Over the years, my understanding has changed. Now I think of samadhi as exactly the opposite of a trance. Samadhi is a state of being intensely present without a point of view. In other words, in samadhi you perceive all points of view of reality at once, without focusing on any particular one.” – Judith Lasater

Samadhi is often defined as enlightenment or the highest state of consciousness. In its illusiveness, it is the 8th and final limb of the yogic system. There are many variations and explanations of its meaning – a state of bliss, communion with God, union with the ultimate reality… In the end, I have concluded that it is a most personal experience. You receive your samadhi based on what it is that you most seek…

Here is the story of my enlightenment:

Continue reading “How I Became Part of the Whole”

Migrate Home with Meditation

birds-216827__340“…No matter how far the wild gander flies, at some point it remembers, and migrates back to its home, always at the proper season. In the same way, we as spiritual beings following a spiritual principle must, like the wild gander, remember, and migrate back to our spiritual home…” – Goswami Kriyananda

When I began exploring a meditation practice some years ago, I found it difficult to remain present at first.  Who hasn’t?  Luckily there are a myriad of techniques available for generating awareness. And, through trial and error, it’s possible to discover a method that speaks to you. In the end, a meditation practice should give you energy, enthusiasm, peace and joy.

Today I am introducing what may be the most effective concentration/meditation technique that I have encountered in my training and practice. It frequently helps to remove the attachments and fluctuations from my mind so that I can focus on my breath and generate positive energy.

What is it? Continue reading “Migrate Home with Meditation”