Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Clear the Channels

clarity

“If you want peace and purity, melt away your coverings…let a streaming beauty flow through you.”   – Rumi

This week we continue our quest to support a steady yoga practice by looking at the second limb of the yoga system called niyamas or observances. There are five niyamas and the first is shaucha or purity.

By observing purity, we endeavor to lift ourselves to a higher, clearer and more peaceful state at all levels: intellectual, verbal and physical.

Below are some of the ways I incorporate the idea of purity into my physical yoga practice: Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Clear the Channels”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Let Go

“In the entire path of yoga, there is really only one lesson. It is the one lesson we have to learn over and over again. Whenever we relinquish our craving, clinging and grasping, whenever we are totally present and undivided, we are immediately in union with our true nature.” – Stephen Cope

Through yoga, we can address our attachments, our extreme possessiveness, with the concept of non-attachment or aparigraha. Aparigraha is the 5th yama or abstinence in the 8 fold path of yoga. In Sanskrit, the word aparigraha is broken down into graha = to take/grab, pari=all sides & a=against. So, aparigraha means “against taking all” or non-greed. While we can certainly have attachments to physical things, we can also be possessive on an intellectual or verbal level.

Here are some basic methods for practicing non-attachment or aparigraha this week in your asana practice: Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Let Go”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Is This Too Much?

Remember the most essential aspect of healthy yoga is going inward and growing more mindful with each breath. Let us not get distracted by “getting better” at yoga with our drive to achieve more. Instead, let us focus on deepening our relationship with our bodies in a way that is empowering and mindful.

One of the most difficult yamas (restraints) within the 8 limb-fold system of yoga to define is brahmacharya. 

Literally, it means celibacy. However, it can also be defined as non-sensuality, which is the detachment from fulfilling the senses. 

see-no-evil-1457464__340

When we dwell over objects of the senses, we tend to develop attachments. And, attachments can cause us to become imbalanced. Excess is almost always harmful.  Ever hear of too much of a good thing?
Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Is This Too Much?”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Value Yourself

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize that there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” – Lao Tzusay-yes-to-the-live-2121044__340

In the context of our next yama, non-stealing or asteya, this week we will value what we have. Therefore, find one attribute each day that you are thankful for and celebrate it on your mat. If you are confident in your downward dog, do a practice that salutes that posture. If you are a patient person, try holding your poses for a little longer than you normally would.  If you are good at standing up for yourself, work on those balancing postures a bit more. 
Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Value Yourself”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: What is Your Truth?

…we should progressively embrace what is real for us, so that we may find health and harmony. As you go deeper into yoga, remember that you are doing this study in order to remember yourself, to come home to all of you…  – Rolf Gates

In our practices this week, let’s focus on the second ethical quality or yama known as truthfulness. As a moral principle, truthfulness or satya, as it is called in Sanskrit, asks us to convey truth responsibly. Like the other yamas, we should consider truthfulness in thought, speech and action.

This week set a goal for yourself to be more authentic in your asana practice. Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: What is Your Truth?”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Balance & Harmony

temple-2891941__340Now that we have built our foundation for a steady yoga practice, we are ready to begin  supporting our practice so that we can keep it going. In my experience, I have found that the best way to keep a steady practice is to form balance. Balance teaches us to be moderate and achieve evenness – it keeps you upright and steady. And, in order to form balance you need to establish pillars to hold up your practice. We will begin with the yamas and the niyamas. These are the yogic branches of abstentions and observances that can stabilize your asana practice.

The first yama is ahimsa which is the Sanskrit word for non-violence. The obvious definition for non-violence is to do no physical harm onto others. However, ahimsa goes way beyond the obvious. Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Balance & Harmony”

Establish A Steady Yoga Practice – Expect Nothing, Accept Everything

city-35002__340Remember, there is a natural ebb and flow to everyone’s practice. B.K.S. Iyengar said, “a yoga practice waxes and wanes like the moon. Sometimes our work is bright and shiny, like the full moon, while at other times it feels dark as when the moon is new. Realize that the cycle of yoga practice is not 24 hours, weekly or even monthly but spread out over a lifetime.”

As you plan your practice this week, give yourself permission to ride with the tide. You may have a pattern of energy and strength one day and then you may need to drift closer to the shore and rest on the beach for the next day or so. Don’t be too hard on yourself as you commit to this daily routine. Continue reading “Establish A Steady Yoga Practice – Expect Nothing, Accept Everything”