Support A Steady Yoga Practice: The Art of Sitting

simply sitting

“Perfection in an asana is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached”. – Yoga Sutras.

Learning to sit peacefully with the breath is founded on the postures of yoga. Yoga asana is performed so that the body is able to sit comfortably  in stillness. Pranayama or breath control is the fuel that sustains us to stay steady in our bodies and minds.

In the practice of yoga it is important to find a restful seat. Using a wall, a chair or other props to keep your spine upright is suggested if your hips or back muscles are weak or tight. Another method for learning to sit on the floor is to gradually introduce the muscles to the practice.

Here are my tips for crafting a comfortable seat: Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: The Art of Sitting”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Bow to the Teacher Within

Om Namah Shivaya

Our final niyama, Ishvar-Pranidhana, is often defined as “centering on your Ideal.” It is a simple pledge to honor the indwelling teacher. Ishvar-Pranidhana is a practice of attunement that brings us to the apex of our study of the niyamas.

This week, make an effort to salute yourself, your teachers and all of those who have come before you. Practice chanting “Om Namah Shivaya” at the end of each meditation or asana practice.  aware-1353780__180

In Sanskrit, the meaning of the chant is:

Om– Ever present, it is the pulse of the universe and the source of our whole being.

Namah–  A word that means to bow.

Shivaya– Literally it means Shiva; but more than that, it represents the inner self.

For your reference, here is an audio link to the pronunciation of Om Namah Shivaya

When understood fully, the phrase translates to “I bow to the inner Self.’ In class, you may have heard me say, “bow to the teacher within”.

A wonderful set of words that expresses exactly how I feel as I end each and every practice. Bowing to the teacher within me is saluting all of my wisdom and where it stems from. It is how I respect my journey and honor all those who have made it possible.

My deepest gratitude!

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Light Your Fire

“The wider practice of yoga is not about arranging our life so that it is perfect and easy and non-challenging. Rather it is about using the discipline we find in asana practice to be able to remain easy in the midst of difficulty. That is the true measure of freedom…” – Judith Lasater

The Sanskrit word tapas is the third niyama on our list. Tapas is often defined as heat. Yet it’s more ancient roots explain tapas has having the ability to remove impurities. In fact, the word tapas is used to define the process of heating alloyed gold until the debris is burnt off, revealing only the purest product.

Through the practice of yoga we can also use heat to burn away the nonsense and expose our true power. sun-1106981__340This does not just apply to intensive ashtanga, hot or vinyasa yoga forms. Any type of asana, pranayama or meditation can generate tapas.

This week choose a portion of your practice where you feel you need to apply more will power.

If you can’t sustain downward dog without stressing your shoulders, approach the posture through child’s pose and gradually build on the time you remain in downward dog until you feel stronger.

Maybe you can’t relax in savasana for more than 5 minutes. Use a timer to add one minute to each practice until you relish a full 10 or even 20 minute savasana.

As you bring more self-disipline into your practice, you will realize that you have more confidence. This “I can do it” attitude leads to greater contentment. Ultimately you will find that when you persevere in your practice (and your life), you feel more balanced, purposeful and joyful. A little work will release your attachments and free up your consciousness for higher realizations.

If you are interested in learning more about the concept of tapas, click on this previous post: “Tap Into Your Strength.”

Be the Light!

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. 

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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”