YOLY Challenge #50: Open to Receptivity

For the month of June, which is traditionally the month of love, we will get to the “heart” of what matters, our Self.

But first we need to open the door to receptivity.
doorway-981803__340To be receptive is to accept a signal, an idea or even another person into your life. For receptivity to occur, it is imperative that your heart and mind be open. This ability to see things differently requires flexibility. Not everyone is amenable or disposed to receiving what others have to share. Therefore, in order to fully receive, you may have to give up something that you already possess.

This is especially fitting for yogis who want to prepare and purify themselves to receive the teachings of yoga. Releasing your subjectivity, blockages and negativity will give you space for a lifestyle that is happier, healthier and compassionate or love-filled.

At this point in our Year of Living Yogically, we know that there is more to the system of yoga than the postures themselves. Time and again, the posts refer back to the Eight Limb System of yoga which includes:

  1. Yamas (restraints)
  2. Niyamas (observances)
  3. Asanas (postures)
  4. Pranayama (breathing)
  5. Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
  6. Dharana (concentration)
  7. Dhyana (meditation)
  8. Samadhi (contemplation)

Maybe you have already incorporated some of these techniques into your own practice.

This week your challenge will be to review the eight steps and find the area(s) that you feel need enriching. Simply use the Topic bar on the right to click on the category you would like to read more about. Understanding each step in the eight-fold system will help you become more conscious of your true nature.

We have two weeks left in this journey. The next challenges will be the icing on the cake that will, hopefully, feed you for many years to come.

Namasté friends!

If you would like to start at the beginning of this year-long challenge please click here.

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YOLY Challenge #37: Tap Into Your Strength

After a couple of months of restoring and purifying, we begin afresh as we enter the month of March and the start of spring. It is a clean slate for building our strength, our sturdiness.

The month of March was named after the Roman god Mars who was known for his strong, warrior like quality. Although warrior honors were bestowed on many ancient figures, Mars was known for achieving his strength through  levelheadedness and discipline.

Acquiring strength in yoga is founded on discipline as well. In Sanskrit, we use the word “tapas” to define discipline but not in a severe or stern manner.  snail-1447233__340For myself, yogic discipline or tapas can be explained by one word, passion – the heat within our hearts formed from exuberance. Good, disciplined action should lead to a sense of purpose or empowerment; it’s what we encounter in a really great yoga class – a feeling of soaring above all else.
So, our challenge for the week is to try and generate more tapas (heat) in our lives – on and off the mat.

Select a pose that you are avoiding or may find difficult, then practice it.  Apply compassion, however, and don’t go beyond your comfort zone. Begin slowly or practice a variation of the pose first.

Strive for consistency. This can be in any area of your life that you feel is lacking.  Maybe it is your regular yoga practice or even the time you lay down to sleep each night.  Pick one thing that you feel is erratic and get it on a steady track.

What are you afraid of?  Do the single thing that you most dread or feel that you just aren’t trusting yourself to achieve.  Choosing this more challenging path is definitely fuel for the fire. Maybe it starts with a telephone call or visit that you have been putting off.

“As the trials increase, the errors become less. Then doubts become less, and when the doubts lessen, the effort also becomes less… direction will come, and when you go in the right direction, wisdom begins. When wise action comes, you no longer feel the effort as effort- you feel the effort as joy.”  -B.K.S. Iyengar (The Tree of Yoga)

Click here if you’d like to start a Year of Living Yogically!

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YOLY Challenge #35: Clearing the Mind’s Path

bridge-19513__340As we continue on our purification journey, it is important to remember that the mind requires cleansing as well as the body. In our quest to create a clear path, we should seek to avoid all things that are destructive and unhealthy. This is tremendously important for our state of mind.

Mind purification or saucha is a deep subject. In order to begin, we need to remove the congestion and false perceptions.

The first step in this challenge is to view things as they truly are through healthy detachment.  As we move through life, negative emotions are all around us and inside of us. This way of thinking can become toxic to our minds. Therefore, we should attempt to detach from negative thoughts and feelings.

Quiet and focus the mind on a negative idea/feeling that you hold onto. Acknowledge this attachment. Then see it as a separate entity – this thought/feeling is not who you are. Place it to the side and see yourself without this burden in your life.

In this way, little by little, we can learn to put aside attachments such as greed, fear and any other unhealthy desires. A mental pathway free of negative emotions leads to keen self-awareness.

The next step is to create more compassion for your mind. As I have reiterated in class many times: “We are here to learn from one another, with one another and through one another…”  – a valuable quote from Goswami Kriyananda that defines compassion in a nutshell.

Share the benefits of your practice with those around you – not by trying to get them to do yoga or insisting that they make changes to their lives – but by respecting, accepting and viewing others with non-judgement.

Removing obstacles and living with compassion for self and others provides a clear channel for your health, your joy, and your sense of purpose.

Be well!

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YOLY Challenge #33: Get Clean

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When I chose to focus on purification as a theme for my classes and the blog this month, I really had no idea that the word February (in Latin februare) meant “to make pure.”

Perfect!

Now, what do I mean by purification?

In general, I view purification as a method for letting go of the old and unnecessary to allow space for nourishing breath, clean food, and new energy. Purification is a way to rid the body of irritation, congestion and toxins so that you can regenerate.
We have transitioned from our month of restoring, resting and reflecting in January. Now is the time for replenishing and energizing.

Here is your challenge this week. Get started on the road to freshening up with these daily practices:

Clean up your diet

Try to eliminate caffeine, sugar, alcohol and any extreme aspect of food intake. Drink clean water, green tea and take in more vegetables and fruit in your diet. This is not a cleanse but an awareness exercise. Try this for one week if you can and evaluate your energy level on day 7.

In my experience with caffeine withdrawal, it only takes a few days to transition. I went to an organic water processed decaf and feel that I have more energy than ever before! I hope to use this opportunity to transfer my morning cup to tea – the cleansing qualities of tea would be much more beneficial.

Clear the Mind

Start a Meditation Practice. Keep it simple and find a technique that invites you to your mat each day. Meditation can be done at any time so choose a segment of your day when you will have no interruptions. Last week, I posted the Hong-Sau technique. Its simplicity will be enlightening.

Filter Your Toxins

Incorporate a twist into each yoga practice this week. The Supine Revolved Belly Pose will serve to squeeze out the unwanted toxins and provide room for fresh nutrients and oxygen to enter the body.

If you are looking for additional ways to purify this month, the Shat Kriyas or yogic purification techniques might be appropriate. You may have heard of Jala Neti (nasal cleansing) and Chandra Dhauti (tongue cleansing). These are important methods for vanquishing toxins and clearing energy channels.

And finally, some purifying food for thought on the practice of yoga from this translation of an ancient Sutra of Patanjali:

“Effective practice of yoga produces physical purity so that attachments to toxins and corruptive forces disappear naturally…allowing both internal and external purity (saucha) of the body, psychic environment… through the removal of the occlusions of consciousness, there is achieved balance, cheerfulness, one-pointedness, harmony of the senses, and yogic vision. Here one is no longer attracted by corruptive influences because one has established (and is happily rooted within) an inner energetic freedom.”
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