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, but doing what is just right. 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.

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?”

Daily Yoga Practice Week #3

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Another week and the habit of a daily yoga practice is setting in – with pleasure!  I am enjoying getting reacquainted with myself through meditation and pranayama. Doing it first thing each morning truly sets the tone. And, if I don’t do my asana practice until later, it still provides the commitment I need to keep on track. My attitude is brighter and I have more incentive to make it a great day.

This week, I’m bringing back the Chandra Dhauti Shat Kriya or Tongue Cleansing. Shat Kriyas are important purification techniques that keep the subtle energy levels flowing. When implemented, the absorption of oxygen is increased so that a deeper awareness can be generated. The tongue cleansing is a simple and productive first step towards subtle body purification. If you would like to discover more about this process, click here.

Ultimately, purifying the body is dependent on the amount and type of food you consume. In general, I try to eat moderately. A little of everything is my motto.

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When shopping, I look for foods without pesticides, herbicides, hormones, additives, or preservatives and select locally grown or organic produce whenever possible. Personally, I find that when I limit the amount of alcohol, sugar and caffeine in my diet, I have a clearer perspective and a more satisfying yoga practice.

Week #3 of the meditation/pranayama practice is a continuation of last week with the addition of a new technique. Here’s the plan:

1.) Centering (Sacred Space, Invocation & Resurrection Breath).

I’ll be focusing on the yama satya (or non-lying).

2.) Sipping Breath (we covered this on week #1).

3.) EEEE Mantra (introduced last week).

4.) Neti Neti Neti technique:

  • Close your eyes, focus on something meaningful & be still.
  • When your mental focus shifts to other streams of thought, chant silently: Neti, Neti, Neti (or “I am not that thought”).
  • Maintain the technique for 2 minutes.

Tip: Practicing Neti, Neti, Neti over time will lead you to a more meditative state – if you stay diligent. Keep bringing yourself back to the object of your meditation and, eventually, the mind will find that it is easier to stay focused than it is to continually migrate back to thinking other thoughts.

I wish you a joyful practice week!

A Modicum of Moderation

On this our sharing day, I would like to address the idea of moderation.  I believe that it is the key to balance and the answer to many of the everyday choices we have in life.  How much do you eat? How often do you practice yoga and for how long? What is the correct amount of sleep? sun? or even sex?

If you can, be moderate.  Choose the middle.  A little of this and a little of that.                                                                                         telephone-1822040__340

Certainly a life lived in moderation should be a consideration as you develop your practice of ahimsa or non-violence.  And, like ahimsa, moderation is one of the yamas (restraints) within the 8 limb-fold of yoga. Its sanskrit name is brahmacharya.

If you seek to balance your tendencies, you will definitely honor your limitations.  Excess is almost always harmful.  Ever hear of too much of a good thing?

Lately, I am working on establishing reasonable limits for time spent on my computer and phone. It certainly has been a challenge. At the very least, I am becoming more mindful of some of the nonsensical ways that I use these devices.

What do you find most difficult to moderate?

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