February is a month that honors many things – Black History, Women’s Heart Health, and Groundhog Day to name a few. February is also the month in which we celebrate Valentine’s Day. And whether you are looking forward to February 14th or think it is a ploy created by the greeting card industry, love is something we all need. It is essential to life. And not just the romantic kind of love – though that is wonderful – but the love we feel for our families, our friends, and mankind in general. Love is the thread that unites us all. So why not celebrate it?
Happy 2015, beautiful Yogis! As the new calendar year begins, a lot of us see this as an opportunity to set goals for ourselves and our lives. And while you can do that any day of the year, there is something magical about January 1st. So if one of your goals this year is to start a yoga practice or deepen your yoga practice, you should know that yoga doesn’t care. This article has been circulating online for a couple months now. I love it because it confronts all of the stereotypes about yoga circulating in Western society.
What do you envision when you think of yoga? When you tell people that you practice yoga, what do they say? I bet you’ve heard “I’m not flexible enough for yoga” or “Men don’t do yoga” or “I can’t afford to do yoga”. Etcetera, etcetera, etc. And on some level, these objections are fair. If you look at the images presented to us about yoga and the information widely distributed about yoga, you might think the same thing. If you google images of yoga, you are confronted with images of mainly toned, supple bodies clad in sleek clothing, practicing in exotic locations making seemingly impossible positions look as easy as sitting on the couch. Yoga doesn’t care and you shouldn’t either. Continue reading
SCENE: You finally found that comfortable spot on your mat and are beginning to let the stresses of the day go. You’re starting to get the hang of breathing and maybe even the warm-up part of class is feeling good. Then your teacher says something to the effect of, “Take a moment and set an intention for your practice.” An intention, what is that, you wonder? I intend to get through this class without looking like I don’t belong here. I intend to attempt my first arm balance. What else is there? Why do I need to set an intention for my practice?
Good question. I love Deepak Chopra’s definition of an intention: “a directed impulse of consciousness that contains the seed form of that which you aim to create.” Read that again. SLOWLY. Let it sink into your soul and uncover what it brings up. Intentions are focused, conscious, and the beginning of a creation. Much like your yoga practice should be. Using your breath to blend your movements and unite body, mind, and spirit, your yoga practice is a manifestation of your true self. Your desires and dreams start somewhere. They start with an intention.
There are many reasons why we set an intention for our practice. When I think about it, the top three reasons are: 1) To focus the mind; 2) To link your practice to something off your mat; and 3) To add meaning to your practice. Continue reading
Happy Thanksgiving, beautiful Yogis! As you sit down to enjoy this holiday dedicated to gratitude, I want to say THANK YOU for showing up to support our annual yoga and charity auction to benefit Love the Little Ones. Together we raised $2000!
In addition to the money raised, you donated boxes and boxes of toys, clothing, and toiletries. So much we were afraid we would have to rent a truck to take it all home! Know that you have made possible many celebrations for children in need. Already looking forward to next year’s event – thank you for all you do!
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle
Rumi has a beautiful quote, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you”. Any pain you’ve endured has the potential to open you and soften your heart. The kindest people I know have all suffered. We don’t invite suffering, we don’t ask for pain; nonetheless, the darkest times tend to lead to the most growth, the deepest understanding, the greatest expansion of compassion for ourselves and everyone we encounter.
But we live in a crazy world where we’ve learned to lie to each other all day. “How are you?” “I’m fine! How are you?” Maybe you’re not fine, maybe you’re falling apart right now. But we’ve gotten this idea that we are supposed to edit ourselves, to keep it “light”, to, “Smile as Your Heart is Breaking”. And then we go home and weep. Do you think you’re alone? Do you think you’re the only one who feels despair and heartache and fear sometimes? What could be more vulnerable than the condition of being human? Of knowing we have a finite amount of time to figure out how to shine, how to love with our whole hearts, how to be at peace, how to release fear? What if we started telling each other the truth? “How are you?” “Well, I feel stuck and I’m not sure what to do about it. I have a deep feeling I should be moving in a different direction, but I can’t act because I don’t want to disappoint all these people who are counting on me to keep sleepwalking through my life. How are you?” That would be a little different, no?
And when we feel other people are somehow cruising through life with no doubt, no fear, no suffering, of course we start to think it’s us. And if I’m so broken, how can I possibly save myself, or spread any light anywhere? Let me tell you something. We are all broken. Life is happening in all its brilliant inexplicable chaos and we are here, breathing, trying to make sense of it all. Embrace your pain, your fear, your doubt, your shame, your guilt, your insecurity. You are human like every other person you will ever meet, no matter how perfect they may seem. Human beings are not perfect. No one’s life is perfect. Until you embrace and accept yourself in your entirety, as long as you deny your “cracks”, you just cannot open to love.
Love is accepting. Love will celebrate you, sing your name to the stars, wrap you up in yes, teach you how to use your pain to heal yourself and anyone you may encounter who could use some love. Some light. A hug. A touch on the arm. Some forgiveness. Some relief. Some, “Oh, yes, me too!”. You are not meant to be perfect. You are meant to be amazingly, humanly, you.
Find your gift. It may be covered in debris, and you may have to dig for a while. You may bleed in those moments where you pick up memories like shards of glass. You may weep and think there’s nothing there. But if you listen hard enough you will hear a small voice. You may not recognize it at first, but it is the universe speaking through you, showing you your own particular truth, your own path to healing. Because we are all in this thing together, we are all made of the same stuff. And I am positive we are supposed to be helping each other. You don’t have to be perfect to help. You just have to be you. And you are miraculous, you truly are. You could help so much, just by healing yourself. When you do that, it feels so incredible you want to help other people do it for themselves. You want to say, “I’m gonna help you dig until you find that shimmering essential spark that is just yours. And then I’m gonna watch you spread it all over the place.” I think I just said that to You. Sending you love. Ally
I have been struggling through this lately. Especially with a friendship that I let go because the friendship was not healthy for me. Our friendship ended months ago, and to be honest, I have not really thought of that person, except in passing. No feelings of anger, or resentment would surface..on the contrary, I felt nothing at all….until last week when I was told information that in a particular situation, she had backstabbed me.
Since then, feelings of anger have began to bubble up at the thought of her. Being a passionate person, these feelings have in a sense turned me to a Red Headed Hulk. “Hulk Angry!” Angry at this person, angry at the situation that happened months ago, hurt at the backstabbing, but didn’t realize until I began meditating: angry at myself, for keeping a relationship with this person at the time, knowing in my gut, that it was unhealthy.
And that’s what it really comes down to right? We are our own worst critic. I can sit here and be mad at this person, at the situation, and at myself, and get absolutely nowhere. I have found that with anger, comes compassion. Compassion towards this person, Compassion towards myself. Knowing that I made the best decision that I could at the time with the information that I had. But I am responsible for how I respond, and I can choose to harbor resentment or I can choose to let go.
Letting Go is easier said than done…there’s no magic lamp, wrinkly nose, or a snap that will make it happen. Letting Go, with all situations takes time, and constant forgiveness/compassion, sometimes of other people, but most of the time-with yourself.
I have found that on my mat, and with my breath, I can begin to let go: Let go of emotions that I hold in my body. Let go of tension where I hold those emotions. And slowly, begin to let go of the past, of a girl that only did her best.
here’s to letting go and the journey with it,
Rule One – You will receive a body. Whether you love it or hate it, it’s yours for life, so accept it. What counts is what’s inside.
Rule Two – You will be presented with lessons. Life is a constant learning experience, which every day provides opportunities for you to learn more. These lessons are specific to you, and learning them ‘is the key to discovering and fulfilling the meaning and relevance of your own life’.
Rule Three – There are no mistakes, only lessons. Your development towards wisdom is a process of experimentation, trial and error, so it’s inevitable things will not always go to plan or turn out how you’d want. Compassion is the remedy for harsh judgment – of ourselves and others. Forgiveness is not only divine – it’s also ‘the act of erasing an emotional debt’. Behaving ethically, with integrity, and with humour – especially the ability to laugh at yourself and your own mishaps – are central to the perspective that ‘mistakes’ are simply lessons we must learn.
Rule Four – The lesson is repeated until learned. Lessons repeat until learned. What manifest as problems and challenges, irritations and frustrations are more lessons – they will repeat until you see them as such and learn from them. Your own awareness and your ability to change are requisites of executing this rule. Also fundamental is the acceptance that you are not a victim of fate or circumstance – ‘causality’ must be acknowledged; that is to say: things happen to you because of how you are and what you do. To blame anyone or anything else for your misfortunes is an escape and a denial; you yourself are responsible for you, and what happens to you. Patience is required – change doesn’t happen overnight, so give change time to happen.
Rule Five – Learning does not end. While you are alive there are always lessons to be learned. Surrender to the ‘rhythm of life’, don’t struggle against it. Commit to the process of constant learning and change – be humble enough to always acknowledge your own weaknesses, and be flexible enough to adapt from what you may be accustomed to, because rigidity will deny you the freedom of new possibilities.
Rule Six – “There” is no better than “here”. The other side of the hill may be greener than your own, but being there is not the key to endless happiness. Be grateful for and enjoy what you have, and where you are on your journey. Appreciate the abundance of what’s good in your life, rather than measure and amass things that do not actually lead to happiness. Living in the present helps you attain peace.
Rule Seven – Others are only mirrors of you. You love or hate something about another person according to what love or hate about yourself. Be tolerant; accept others as they are, and strive for clarity of self-awareness; strive to truly understand and have an objective perception of your own self, your thoughts and feelings. Negative experiences are opportunities to heal the wounds that you carry. Support others, and by doing so you support yourself. Where you are unable to support others it is a sign that you are not adequately attending to your own needs.
Rule Eight – What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. Take responsibility for yourself. Learn to let go when you cannot change things. Don’t get angry about things – bitter memories clutter your mind. Courage resides in all of us – use it when you need to do what’s right for you. We all possess a strong natural power and adventurous spirit, which you should draw on to embrace what lies ahead.
Rule Nine – Your answers lie inside of you. Trust your instincts and your innermost feelings, whether you hear them as a little voice or a flash of inspiration. Listen to feelings as well as sounds. Look, listen, and trust. Draw on your natural inspiration.
Rule Ten – You will forget all this at birth. We are all born with all of these capabilities – our early experiences lead us into a physical world, away from our spiritual selves, so that we become doubtful, cynical and lacking belief and confidence. The ten Rules are not commandments, they are universal truths that apply to us all. When you lose your way, call upon them. Have faith in the strength of your spirit. Aspire to be wise – wisdom the ultimate path of your life, and it knows no limits other than those you impose on yourself.
– Cherie Carter-Scott