Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve...

This year... Well things are a bit different this year. I don't think I'll be bringing in the new year any special way. It's currently 7:52 and I'm sitting in front of the TV about to read Teaching Yoga by Mark Stephens. Oh and then, I'll be reading the next sutra in my other book to take notes and write in my journal. Well, I may actually reverse those and write first and then read the Teaching Yoga book.

Today I managed to get all the way through the Fundamentals in practice :). It was a bit difficult but I only completed 3 of sury's A and B before diving into the practice. But it felt good to get to at least that far in my practice. I'm making progress :).

What are your New Year's resolutions?

Mine are still developing really. I guess I need to rack my brain and figure them out. Sometimes, the things I want to accomplish seem to slip my mind. My goal for this year was to open a yoga studio in town but then I decided against it. Now.. I feel the need to continue with the studio. I almost feel drawn to the idea of having a studio. I want to help those who are unable to make it to a studio north or south of here. I want to bring the joy I feel on the mat to others who may not be able to go out of town for practice.

I know a few things I want to accomplish:
1) start my Beachbody team and attempt to get that going pretty well
2) get my yoga teacher certification
3) spend as much time as I can with my husband and son selflessly
4) get back to my pre-pregnancy weight and size

That is a good start I think. I'd love to hear what y'alls resolution. :)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Goals 2013...

This list is still growing but to start off this is what I have:

1) Find a NOT so expensive alternative healthcare option to Tricare
2) Finish reading Gregor Maehle's Pranayama
3) Finish reading BKS Iyengar's Light on Yoga
4) Delve deep into my yoga teacher training, learning as much as I can
5) My Beachbody business to take flight so that I can help others achieve optimum health and fitness
6) Get my yoga practice back on track
7) Spend as much time as I can with my husband and son :)

While all of these things seem seemingly easy... I have a feeling some will be tougher than others. Mostly the reading... I have so many books to read for my teacher training and not to mention for sheer pleasure. Should prove to be an interesting year though.

My biggest goal is finding a health insurance that won't kill my pocket book once Zack gets out of the military (if that is the way that things will go). Crossing my fingers.

Nevertheless....


Merry Christmas Everyone!!!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Info from a friend

I'm part of a small group of folks that offer insights and encouragement for those of us who have trouble rising before a certain time to complete our yoga practice. Recently, I posed a question in regards to being a new mom and practicing yoga. Mostly because I am having trouble finding time TO practice.

My son is now 7 weeks old and, while it's getting easier, I'm still having trouble.

Nevertheless, one person responded by sending me a link of a documented conversation between Sarawathi and Lisa Laler (from a shala in New York).

In regards to when a person should begin practicing, this is what was said:

"L: After delivery, when is it good to start the yoga practice again?

S: After about three months she can start again. In India, the woman stays a lot in bed the first three months after giving birth and she takes an oil bath everyday. The baby should also have oil bath and massage, every day for three or four month. Caster - oil is the best oil to use - both for the baby and the mother."

However, I don't want to wait three months to begin practicing yoga. Therefore, I've been going easy on the practice and on myself. Trying not to beat myself up more or less.

I made it through 5 Sury A's and 2 Sury B's. Then I added some other asanas on the end of the practice and I actually felt really good. I was surprised.

I'm starting to read a book Teaching Yoga for my impending teacher training but am beginning to have a few doubts. Mostly because of my practice being not where I want it to be. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Day 1 of working out and back on the mat for good.... I think.

This morning I started my TurboFire workout program. It lasts 90 days and so far I think it's going to kick my butt.

Cardio hasn't been in my workouts in... Well almost a year or so. But I'm willing to give it a go.

I'm also going to commit to make it on my mat every day (except Saturdays and moon days) and do some sort of yoga. Preferably Ashtanga. I'll be starting with the two rounds of Surya Namaskara A and B and slowly progressing forward yet again.

I know that I need to take my time and not beat myself up about where I am in my practice but its hard. I was up to Navasana (sometimes past if I cheated the system) and now I'm starting over.


On a new note: I start my teacher training in February!! That is a mere month and a half away! Wow I'm stoked and scared all at the same time. Not sure what to expect (outside of lots of studying and listening). But I am excited. Nevertheless, I have a month and a half to gain some ground in my practice. I'm actually thinking of doing different sequences than my Ashtanga practice (or maybe doing both) since its not an Ashtanga certification I'm going for. Although I do wish we could gain one in the states verses flying to India, which I have full intention of beginning to do starting 2013. :)

Alas, my progress starts yet again :)



Monday, December 10, 2012

Getting out of the south...

Zack was called this past week with an offer of 6 months in Alaska for the army..... too bad the job filled up before he was even called. I was furious. I wanted so bad to go to Alaska, and so did he.

I have this bone in my body that hates the south and constantly wants to move, unless I'm in a place that satisfies the bone's itch. So far West Virginia satisfies it, but I would love to move to Colorado. Zack has expressed interest too. Just a matter of when.... and I'm impatient. It sucks.

I want to be content with where I am but I can't stand the humidity.

Anyone know a good place in Colorado to start looking for a place to stay? Good for work and raising a child?

I start back with my practice the end of this week, for real this time. Thursday is my 6 week mark. I'm nervous that I won't get back into my practice like I was. That I won't be dedicated. That I'll get depressed or bummed out about how behind I've fallen.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Excuse My Absence

Things have been a bit hectic lately. My son has decided he doesn't want to sleep in his own bed but would rather sleep on my husbands or my chest (or beside us) and that is something we'd rather not have become a habit. We bought a co-sleeper that goes in our bed but even then he fusses and fusses. Over the weekend I caved in and let him sleep on my chest so my husband could get some sleep.

Now, we're going to have to work with him to get him use to his own bed and to not fuss or scream when he doesn't get his way. Guess it's good he's only 4 weeks old right now so it should (I hope) be easy to break.

Thursday I have my 6 week appointment (but it's really on week 5) and I should find out if I'm ok to start back with exercise. I hope I get the green light. I'm ready to step back on the mat for good.

Me and my little man :)

I can't wait til he's a little bigger so I can get him doing yoga with me. Until then, if I can get him to be calm for at least 20 minutes or so, I'll lay him on my mat or on his little play mat looking at things and listening to his little music device. I'll be experimenting and letting y'all know. 

If anyone has any advice for someone who will be practicing with a one month old? Or a small child to begin with?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Stepping Back ON the Mat

Today marked the second time since I stopped practicing that I stepped onto my mat for a short practice. I noticed right away my tight calves and hamstrings. What I had gained only a short time ago has been lost and will need to be found again. My heels do not touch the ground and my fingertips just barely touch the floor as I bend forward.

I found myself becoming irritated with my practice and when I did I simply let myself hang in a forward fold or rest a few moments more in down dog as I rocked back and forth between my feet. Instead of letting myself be angry at how things had changed, I merely explored them. I took time to notice where there was a tightness in an attempt to breath and loosen it.

Then after practicing I questioned myself on why I wanted to be a teacher. Random time to be thinking about this when I've already paid for my training, but it was a thought that crossed my mind. I was scrolling through Facebook, when oddly enough I found an article that pretty much summed up why I decided I wanted to teach. Not that I am trying to say that everything this fella said is my reasoning but the way he helped this particular woman is (in a sense) what I hope to accomplish as a teacher myself.

Christopher Roberts wrote a piece called "Why I Teach Yoga" and it was touching to say the least. A woman drops in to one of his yoga classes and is forever changed by his teaching methods. She thanks him for his class and explains why she attended.

Like Christopher, I hope to touch and even transform the lives of people who come to attend any of my classes; whether its two or thirty people in a class.

I also hope to inspire my child through yoga.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

10 days old and I am tired...

So far I've tried not to be aggravated with my lack of practice due to obvious reasons but the more aggravated I become the more I wish I could practice to relieve some stress and tension. I've asked one of my teachers about her experience coming back to yoga after having a child (she has three) and she said not to worry so much about asana but to let the body dictate what it needs.

Therefore, tomorrow, not today, I will be stepping onto my mat. I'm going to start with a simple meditation to at least attempt to ground myself and figure out where to go from there. Certain things may be unreachable at this time but I'm looking for a soft easy restorative sequence that will help relieve stress that is especially built up in my back.

I've tried and tried to breastfeed my child but, whether it is his lack of desire to latch on or his need for instant gratification from a bottle nipple, he has decided he doesn't want to breastfeed. It makes me sad because I wanted him to have every chance at great nutrition (not that formula isn't good but it's not mother nature's intended food). I have been resigned to pumping. This SUCKS!!!!! Not only am I left sore but there is no connection there. Well, unless I hold Connor while I am doing it, but it's not the same.

I know this post has no real dig into yoga per se but I felt compelled to write down my thoughts before I get so absorbed in them that it makes me even more upset.

Alas, here is where I stand.


Connor Campbell Nash

My son is 10 days old today... he sleeps good during the day and at the last feeding before "bedtime" he decides he DOESN'T want to sleep yet and therefore me and my husband are up until at least 12 o'clock. And that is if he decides to stay asleep. Then he's up at 2:00 to feed again and asleep by about 3:00-3:20 and then back up again at 5:30...... At this point I'm so wore out that I end up not fighting him to sleep and just let him sleep on my chest. At which point, I fall asleep. 



Do I regret anything?

Of course not. It's all an endless process that everyone goes through. I just hope (and like to think) I'm handling it like a champ! With a few tears here and there from the flush of excess hormones. 

Oy vey!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Excuse my absence . . . but :)

I want you all to meet my son, Connor Campbell Nash! :) He was born November 1, 2012 at 8:38 PM. He was 6 lbs 15.8 ozs and 18.5 inches long. 






Sunday, October 28, 2012

Curiosity..

The more I research for opening my studio, the more I am becoming curious about something. Not sure why the two are correlating since they don't really have much to do with each other, but so far the two are going hand in hand.

I want to learn as much as I can about yoga and even Hinduism and Sanskrit as a language. I'm just not sure how well that would go over with the crowd that would potentially be my "market" here for the studio.

I don't want to learn about Hinduism to become a Hindu, but more for the historical aspect of it. I enjoy the art and sculptures of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses, but would placing certain objects around the studio be overstepping my bounds as a teacher? Or would small or limited objects be ok?

Mainly, I'm enamored with Ganesh :) and want a little statue of him.. that or maybe a statue and a wall tapestry. If nothing else, I guess I could hide him on my desk haha.

Anyways, where would be a good place to learn Sanskrit?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Life of an Untouched Mat . . .

       My life is tragic. It really is. I sit here all alone, in a bag, leaning slightly, but never touched. The dust that flies around settles on my side and at my base. Is this what my purpose is supposed to be? I want to be unrolled and used, to feel like I'm needed. Yet, here I sit. All by myself, minus the knick knacks that surround me. But wait! Is today the day? Will I finally be picked up and rolled out?. . . Sigh. I knew it was too good to be true. What is the purpose of being bought if I'm not going to be used? Bad thing is, this didn't use to be my existence. I was once unrolled and well loved. Now I sit alone.




My poor mat.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Time Drawing Nigh? AND New Products? Uh yes!

I think it's getting pretty darn close! Tomorrow makes week 39!! Yikes.

Anyway, I was walking on the treadmill this morning (doc said step it out and it should help to "induce" labor, so I've been stepping it out) and man, oh, man. I had some severe cramps after that. I thought I was going into labor.......

Wrong. That was not the case. The cramps subsided and I just became lethargic after that. I think it may have been due to me eating lunch though, the lethargic part I mean, and not anything drastic. Course I'm not sure either.

But anyways.. I got some goodies in the other day.. see below!!

These are products by Hunki Dori! They are this rad company that offers eco-friendly, organic, up cycled, handmade in the USA or FairTrade!! Not to mention they're pretty awesome.


They partner, or help, a cause called Freeset (see above) that helps women who are in the throws of prostitution because of where they live.

Mood Body Oils smell DIVINE!!


This mat cleanser is awesome... and it smells so good. It's infused with Sunflower oil. Isn't that cool?

These are their scent infused eye pillows and what's called a HairOM :) I have that one and one that is a bit wider (called a Love Wrap) and I'm way stoked to have them. They're the coolest thing since sliced bread.

This is just another shot of the funky cool eye pillows. If I remember correctly they're Patchouli scented.



And this is just a shot of me with my first HairOM on.

Once I open my studio, I will be the ONLY studio in Mississippi to carry these products! :) I'm pretty excited. I stumbled onto them by accident and now I'm in love. I'm sure it shows, since I'm frothing at the mouth and all. Nevertheless, I can't contain my excitement!

Friday, October 19, 2012

BREAK!!!!

I'm no longer finding the comfort in my practice I used to, and I think it's because of the nearness of my due date. Next Tuesday will make 39 weeks pregnant... yeah, I know. Doctor says "any time now. It's all up to him." Little does the fella know, I already handed him his eviction notice. Too bad it didn't work.

The last few times I tried to practice were a flop. All it did was make me angry because of my lack of ease and enjoyment. So, I've made a decision for the collective good of my little group (me and the baby). I'm not going to continue my practice until AFTER he is born. That way I'm not angry all the time over something I can't control. I'm going to RELAX in these last few days, or weeks, of the pregnancy and try to be content and know that I will be back on my mat as soon as possible. Heck, I can always sit on my mat and meditate if I get that lonely.

I have my "hospital bag" all packed minus some books I'm going to bring up there. Top of the list? You got it!! Maehle's book on Pranayama. Lately, I haven't had the time to read the book. I should be reading now since my husband is still in bed but I decided to type a blog up instead. I'll have time for Maehle later. I will MAKE time for him later.

Right now, it's me and baby time! I'm trying to figure out what outfit I want him to come home in :).


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dry Brushing...... Anyone?

So, I was reading over some things recently and came across a website that was dedicated to dry brushing and I was curious. I have read about it before but still am not too sure on the subject.

I have a brush FOR dry brushing but have only used it a few times. Mainly because I'm not sure how I feel about brushing my body as I would brush my hair.

Here is the link: Dry Brushing

Does anyone have any experience with this? If so, please give me your thoughts. Maybe I'll feel less awkward about brushing myself before I hop in the shower haha.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hectic, Hectic, Hectic!!

The past few days have been so hectic. I have barely had the chance to read at all. I'm quite saddened by this fact. I think I have read about 3 pages from Pranayama in the past four days.

I haven't practiced in two days... or maybe three? Being at drill for the Army National Guard sort of sucks the life out of your... well, life. My time is their time and so, my practice time is taken up in the morning with stupid formations and my afternoons are filled with work and then eating and sleep.

Today, we get a break though, but I doubt I'll end up practicing. I'm sleepy and groggy and just plain grumpy. Oh, not to mention uncomfortable. At 37 weeks and 4 days pregnant... I think I'm a little due for discomfort at the moment. I have issued my son an eviction notice but he isn't listening OR paying attention. I guess he likes his little cocoon.

I guess I'm getting anxious about the delivery and the fact that my practice will soon be obsolete—at least for about 3 weeks. I'm scared that once I get back on the mat things will be different and have drastically changed. I mean, I know it will happen, but its embracing the changes that I feeling scared of. But, I am hopeful that it will give me something to learn from that I can help others with if and should the time for help arise and present itself.

Oh, and my little following for a possible yoga studio down here in the small town of Grenada, Ms is coming along quite nicely. I've amassed at least 50 people that seem genuinely interested (I know its such a tiny number), but I'm hoping to raise awareness in the community over the next few months.

Anyone have any comments or insights on how to best get the word out? Maybe some useful information to present to newcomers who are interested in learning about yoga?? I do have quite a few of those.

I'll hopefully be posting regularly again beginning Monday. Happy weekend! :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Catching Up On Reading and Restorative Yoga

Today will involve me catching up on some long over due reading in Maehle's Pranayama book. I can't believe I've slacked off this much. Then again I've put pretty much all my time into creating two separate business plans (which aren't close to being finished) and am considering creating another.

Ultimate Goal: Start a retreat center for studios to bring their students for either retreats or teacher trainings.

Minor Goals (but more feasible at the moment goals): Starting either a yoga studio in Grenada, Ms OR just simply being a travel instructor. We shall see.

Nevertheless, last post consisted of me being discouraged due to my every growing belly and lack of practice. I report this morning that I practiced the below sequence in restorative yoga... lots of laying on my back but not for too long of a period so it worked. Definitely needed the twisting at the end!

                                            Restorative Yoga with Sebastian and Gillian B

Therefore, I wanted to thank La Gitane for suggesting it (I'd put your actual name but I'm sorry, I don't know it...yet!). She suggested that I try a restorative sequence since they are more gentle on the body than traditional Ashtanga is. Yes I know I can tone down Ashtanga but the forward bending was getting too me. I think my son has decided that he doesn't want me bending over.. which I guess is ok. I mean he is the one being smushed in there, not me.

Goals for today are as follows:
—Finish chapter on General Guidelines in Maehle's book
—Study for Nutrition
—Find more restorative sequences
—Work on business plans

Of course, I'm going to eat and relax in there too. The weather is ABSOLUTELY gorgeous here, but will be warming to the 80's again soon. I can't wait for it to be winter down here in the south. Wish it snowed on a regular basis!

Onward mates! Have a fantastic day :D

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Skimping On Reading For Business Planning

Yep, you read that right. I've been skimping on my reading in exchange for business planning. I knew it would be difficult to plan the start-up of a business, but I didn't know it would be THIS hard of a job. I guess it's a good thing my timeframe for opening my business is set for July-August 2013. Gives me some wiggle room.

So far I've been working with the Mississippi Small Business Development Center out of University of Mississippi in Oxford to get an understanding and working knowledge of what I need to do. Since the town I live in isn't exactly the biggest town, and not to mention we have NO studios within an hours driving distance, I am trying to figure out which would be better– having a studio or just being a travel instructor.

The fella I'm working with from UM told me to build two separate business plans. One for having a studio and one for simply working as a traveling instructor. Let's just say that I'm not exactly business savvy in the sense of building business plans and I'm struggling. Granted, it is all fascinating. Writing the particular things that need to be written is proving more difficult than I imagined. The Executive Summary and Business Description aspects of the plan have me a bit jumbled at the moment. You're supposed to say this and not that, this goes in this section not that section, yada yada. I'll be meeting with Mr. C probably every two weeks (if I can) in order to get everything straightened out and on track.

My next hurdle will be acquiring funds for the start up (if I open a studio). This will be the biggest hurdle I think, mostly because I'm a veteran and therefore I can access funds a bit more easily if I have the SBA's "Veteran" backing to acquire funds. Here comes the kicker, the application process for obtaining a Certificate of Completion (or whatever it is that says I'm a veteran and the SBA has verified all my information) is tedious AND confusing. You have to have so many things for them to certify you as a veteran in need of funds. The process.... well I've seen two separate ways to obtain this piece of paper. Both are equal in length and both are just as confusing. Therefore, I will be making a phone call to the only person in this state that can probably help me. It is also crapy that he is in Jackson, Ms, which is approximately 1.5 hours south of my house. Maybe my next VA appointment can be scheduled on the same day I go visit him? Doubtful but I'm hopeful.

Now, all of this business planning is pending on my completion of my YTT that starts in February 2013. Not that I wouldn't make it through the training, but it is still hinging on becoming certified. I think I could help bring the wonderful aspects of yoga to this town and that people would enjoy it a lot, if they gave it a chance. I'm definitely going to have some marketing to do because word-of-mouth in this town isn't that helpful. I'm going to try to have the word-of-mouth become helpful though by offering group sessions to doctors offices, teachers of the school district, the college campus, and maybe some of the business around here.

Too bad I can't find a way to target the farmers around here.. That would be awesome. Hm, I might have to think about some way to get them interested: "Tired, achy muscles need a break? Come stretch them out at (insert studio name here) during one of our restoration classes.." Eh, so I need some work on my advertising, but I'll think of something haha. After all, I have until next June to start marketing hardcore :).

Friday, October 5, 2012

Discouragement, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi

This post was supposed to happen yesterday, but I wanted to reread Iyengar's description of the last three limbs again. I didn't feel like they quite settled in my brain or I wasn't paying much attention when I was reading them. Nevertheless, I reread all three this morning and there is still some muddled confusion. So I'll give my viewpoints a go and if you feel like chiming in to help me figure these out I would appreciate the help.

Dharana: Oh me, oh my... this one is basically the yogi's ability to concentrate on a single object. In a sense, to me it seems as if dharana and meditation are almost the same things. Yet Iyengar talks about five mental states: ksipta (mental forces are scattered and the mind hankers after objects; rago-guna being dominant), viksipta (agitated or distracted mind, the capacity to enjoy the fruits of one's efforts, but the desires are not marshaled and controlled), mudha ( mind is foolish, dull and stupid; confounded and at a loss to know what it wants; tamo-guna dominant), ekagrata (closely attentive mind and the mental faculties are concentrated on a single object with sattva-guna present; easily turns to being supremely egotistical which is not good), and lastly niruddha (where the mind, intellect, and ego are all restrained and everything is offered to the Lord for His use in His service).

Hmm.. Yep. So we are attempting to attain the state of niruddha, but I'm not quite sure how it's done. Iyengar also goes over AUM, which has multiple meanings that he discusses. I have always heard the description of it representing the one God. Since I'm not a believer of the trimurti, I transformed this into the trinity (same thing I know but different name and different aspects of God). While the Trimurti contains Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, I worship the Trinity (God the father, Jesus the son, and the Holy Spirit). Their combination creates Him, the one true God. That which is all powerful and ever present in our daily lives. When all ego and thoughts of "I" and "mine" subside, the student can then concentrate on Him and to do his will— which is the ultimate goal.

Dhyana: I've really only heard or read about this limb in reference to staring at a lit candle. The mind is suspended as the student concentrates on the flame and releases all outside disturbances or interruptions.   Through my readings of dhyana by Iyengar, there was much more to it. An attempt to achieve a state of supreme bliss as the student has gained a state of no other thoughts but the contemplation on the Universal Spirit. Signs of progress on the path of yoga are "health, a sense of physical lightness, steadiness, clearness of countenance and a beautiful voice, sweetness of odor of the body and freedom from craving." The student must dedicate all his actions to the Lord, taking refuge in him.

Still, not quite sure I understand this one so much.

Samadhi: The ultimate goal of yoga. The last limb, that once attained frees one from all. The student, in a state of samadhi, is fully conscious and alert. There isn't much really explaining samadhi. It must be experienced, not written or read about. Again, here goes my confusion/ misunderstanding. I mean I understand the concept, I guess just not exactly how to attain it. Iyengar also wrote down the Song of the Soul, which also didn't quite make sense. If attaining samadhi is supposed to be the ultimate goal, then why does the song that is written not sound more tantalizing or interesting. Maybe I'm clinging to worldly things but I'm rather fond of family and friends. The second to last stanza goes like this:

I have no misgiving of death, no chasms of race divide me,
No parent ever called me child, no bond of birth ever tied me:
I am neither disciple nor master, I have no kin, no friend–
Consciousness and joy am I, and merging in Bliss is my end.

That just doesn't put butterflies in my stomach for some reason. Maybe I don't understand it completely.   I'll keep searching though.
————————————————————————————————————————

In regards to my discouragement . . . well that's a different matter. I know that my body is limited right now in what it can do physically, but it still makes me upset some. My mind wants to go further than simply five surya namaskara's but my body (or uterus rather) makes it impossible to go further. The discomfort at times is great and I end up in Child's Pose on the floor as I let the pain/discomfort subside. I listen to my body and try not to force anything. I also try not to be discouraged by my lack of a physical practice but it creeps in my mind and it's usually while I'm laying in savasana.

Savasana has been another battle for me. I want to lay on my back so bad and just melt into the ground, but I can't lay on my back for longer than three minutes because the weight of the baby will press on major blood vessels and cut of blood to him and me. So, I've been laying on my side..... only I can't get comfortable enough in that position to "relax" like the pose is supposed to do. I've tried experimenting by laying on my back first and then flipping to my side but once I am on my side I get antsy and want to sit up. I can't clear my head and just feel.

Anyone have any ideas about enjoying savasana on my side more? Maybe for increasing patience as well? haha

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Asana, Pranayama, and Pratyahara (CONDENSED)

[I'm going apologize ahead of time for any negative vibes you all may get from this particular blog. I'm a bit on the aggravated side and no amount of deep breathing has helped, but if I don't write down my thoughts on these three things I've read, it won't get done tonight and will probably suffer tomorrow.]

My happy place!

As I began reading this morning, (yes I am way behind on posting) I had intentionally only considered reading on asana and pranayama. However, this changed as my eyes clearly decided they wanted to read about pratyahara as well. Nevertheless, it was some good information.

The first one I went over was, obviously, asana. This is the third limb of yoga and it is also the most widely used limb to represent yoga in its totality. And truth be told, when I first came to yoga I had no clue there were any other parts that made up this fascinating and illuminating practice. To me, yoga was a way to rehab my knees and to create a limber, yet healthy, body. Oh, how far I have come in my realization that yoga is much more than the postures that one assumes each time they get on a mat to practice.

Asana, however, is the postures of yoga, but it is not about who can do which posture better than another person. Nor is it about how quick someone can master a pose or even how limber a person becomes. Yoga is much more profound than all of those "ideals". It's not about obtaining a fabulous body through the postures, nor is it about simply maintaining flexibility. The postures are a way to help us conquer our bodies, purify them so that they are a worthy temple of our soul, our spirit. The body we have is a vessel, a temporary home that we inhabit before we can move on to live with the Lord, our God. By purifying and perfecting this body we were given, we are not only honoring God, but also better preparing ourselves to do his will. With a strong mind and body we can complete the tasks that He has set forth for us.

Through asana, we are freeing ourselves "from physical disabilities and mental distractions." Some people may balk at the idea of overcoming physical disabilities, (and true there are some that my or may not be cured by yoga but then again I can't get into that deeply because I'm not knowledgeable on that level) but I've seen some older women who've needed the assistance of a cane, or a walker, put up those objects permanently because of their perseverance with yoga practice.

It is not through asana alone that one can conquer the body though. The fourth limb of yoga, pranayama, is said to have such a powerful affect on the body that one could purge themselves of disease. Of course, that doesn't mean to go out and grab the first DVD on pranayama you find and try to get busy learning the techniques. While it is powerful enough to cure a person, it also has the adverse reactions if practiced improperly. Prana "means breath, respiration, life, vitality, wind, energy or strength. It also connotes the soul as opposed to the body." This limb is quite hard to condense into a paragraph or two because of how extensive it is. (I'm actually reading a BOOK on pranayama along with Light on Yoga. The book, Pranayama: The Breath of Yoga is written by Gregor Maehle and can tell you SO much more than I can about pranayama.)

Pranayama, in itself, is complicated (at least to me). A student must have a teacher that is knowledgeable in this area to instruct him or her. Through improper practice, a student can harm his/herself. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika warns, "as lions, elephants and tigers are tamed very slowly and cautiously, so should prana be brought under control very slowly in gradation measured according to one's capacity and physical limitations. Otherwise it will kill the practitioner." Yowza! Kill the practitioner. See, not something to take lightly or to even mess around with, at least without proper instruction. A teacher or guide can help a student better understand their limitations since they are masters (or at least extremely knowledgable in the application of this limb) of the techniques being taught. It's a rather tedious thing for me to swallow, having a teacher that is, because I live no where near someone that is extremely adept at pranayama, but I do intend to start taking workshops or something in regards to pranayama so that I can prepare myself or at least dip my feet into this intricate pool of knowledge.

Alas, pratyahara! This is the limb where a yogi learns to control his senses. Through sense control, one can control the mind. If one gives into the senses, there is a loss of control and it leads down a path of destruction. "The path of Yoga is like the sharp edge of a razor, narrow and difficult to tread, and there are few who find it. The yogi knows that the paths of ruin or salvation lie within himself."And this pretty much applies to anyone, because it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out if an action is deemed inappropriate or not. Most just choose to overlook the inappropriate or outlandish behaviors.

This limb is still much in the area of the unknown to me. I know that it is "sense withdrawal" but the extent of what is pertained in its glory is yet oblivious to me. Iyengar speaks of the three gunas (qualities or attributes) that are predominant in every person: Sattva (illuminating, pure or good quality) that leads to clarity and mental serenity, Rajas (quality of mobility or activity) that makes a person active and energetic, tense and willful, and then Tamas (the dark and restraining quality) obstructs and counteracts the tendency of rajas to work and sattva to reveal. Yogis, who are affected by these three gunas,  is able to gain control through "constant and disciplined study (abhyasa) of himself and of the objects which his senses tend to pursue, he learns which thoughts, words and actions are prompted by tamas and which by rajas."

The last section I just went over on pratyahara, is probably the biggest jumbled mess of all. Mostly, it is because I don't have a full grasp or working knowledge of this limb yet. There needs to be a book, or at least extensive sections of books, dedicated to each of the limbs. I like things broken down barney style so that I can make sure I don't miss something. While I understood what I read, that Iyengar wrote, I still feel a void in the information.


This is the link for the book on Pranayama, for those that are interested. You can still catch up and read along with Claudia and me. She's documenting her "Aha!" moments as she re-reads the book here. So come on over and join us :).

Monday, October 1, 2012

Light on Yoga Exploration: Niyama


Today was another practice-less morning due to a night of uncomfortable occurrences. Let’s say I am ready for this baby to get here and to stop pressing on my sciatic nerve. Nevertheless, I woke to coffee, a smoothie and reading. I’m beginning to enjoy mornings so much more now that I have a ritual or routine that I complete everyday, whether it is early in the morning or after 7 that I rise.

Yesterday I covered Yama, and therefore, today I commence with my discussion and outlook on Niyama. Like yama, niyama contains five sub-limbs: saucha (purity), santosa (contentment), tapas (adoration or austerity), svadhyaya (study of the Self) and Isvara pranidhana (dedication to the Lord).

After reading over this section of Light on Yoga, I have the intense urge to take a season and simply read all the sacred texts of other religions and brush up on the Bible as well. I will get to my reasoning for this particular feeling in regards to my need to read up on religions of others.

First, we come to saucha or purity and the description of what it means to be pure. In this section, Iyengar explains that one must not only be pure of body, thought and word, but also one must eat food that is pure. Most people shy away or brush off this section and ahisma because they don't want to become vegetarians or vegans for that matter. Adopting a plant based diet, however, is inevitable if one continues to practice yoga in order to attain a one-pointed attention and spiritual evolution. By creating a pure body, mind and soul, a yogi will be able to create a place for spiritual practice. At least, this is how I interpret the explanation. If anyone would like to comment on this, I would be willing to read what you have to say to further my understanding.

Santosa, or contentment, came next. A yogi who is content, knows the "love of the Lord and has done his duty." By being content in life the yogi will have peace in life and never waver in the spirit of the Lord. 

Tapas dissected, means "a burning effort under all circumstances to achieve a definite goal in life" and is the "conscious effort to achieve ultimate union with the Divine and to burn up all desires which stand in the way of this goal." A yogi should use words and actions to bring oneself closer to God by doing His will. 

Svadhyaya, or education of the self, but it is not merely sitting in a lecture hall and receiving education, rather one should educate him or herself in their own life and always revise and rewrite what is written. Study of the sacred texts is also essential. A yogi should immerse him or herself in other religious texts for study, not because they are searching for another religion to adhere to, but in an attempt to enable themselves the chance to better appreciate their own faith. By understanding what others believe, it gives one the chance to understand their daily lives and actions. By subjecting oneself to the study of their own sacred texts they are immersing themselves into the literature for understanding and devotion to their faith. 

(Side note: "The sacred books of the world are for all to read. They are not meant for the members of one particular faith alone. aS bees savour the nectar in various flowers, so the sadhaka absorbs things in other faiths which will enable him to appreciate his own faith better . . . yoga is not a religion by itself. It is the science of religions, the study of which will enable a sadhaka the better to appreciate his own faith." This, particularly, caught my eye.)

Last but not least, Isvara pranidhana means dedication to the Lord by one's actions. If one is dedicated to the Lord there can be no failure, no despair, and no fear. A yogi should be without pride, unselfish and bow his/her head only in worship of the Lord. "The name of the Lord is like the Sun, dispelling all darkness . . . actions mirror a man's personality better than his words. The yogi has learnt the art of dedicating all his actions to the Lord and so they reflect the divinity within him." 

This post is much less in-depth than the previous post, I think, but then again I'm typing this about two hours after I've read it. The thoughts I had earlier are quite diminished. Note to self: Write blog immediately after reading.


Nevertheless, it is the 1st of October, and granted we don't have snow here... I am hopeful that I can see some of this fluffy white stuff this year. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Disturbed Night= No Morning Practice

Last night was a doozy for me. The little baby that is roaming around my insides decided it would be a neat/fun idea to cause me discomfort all night. It wasn't so much that he was moving or even kicking... he was PUSHING in all sorts of directions. Needless to say, I didn't sleep well. My alarm went off at 6:00 this morning which inevitably was reset for 6:30, 7:00, and then 7:30. Lazy, I know. But at 7:30 I roused myself from bed and fixed a cup of coffee (I'm beginning to wonder if it's not the coffee that's doing me in; even though I've drank it throughout pregnancy). After that, I grabbed Iyengar's book Light on Yoga and headed for the front porch.


The rain could have another effect on my drowsy tendencies this morning as well, but either way I was content to sit on the porch to drink my coffee and read my book. I'm making it more slowly through this one than Maehle's book on pranayama. Mostly because I've never been good at reading multiple books at once. I like to delve myself into one particular book until it's finished, but I'm exploring two right now. Well if you count textbooks it's technically five books, but those aren't for fun or pleasure.

Anyways, my thoughts thus far on this wonderful book...

I would have loved to practice with or even be taught by Iyengar. His stance on yoga in this book fascinates me. I guess my fascination comes into play with the religious tie-ins throughout the text. While yoga is not based in religion and religion not necessarily based in yoga, there are a lot of things that coincide with one another from the two different aspects. 

For instance, when Iyengar begins his dictation of the eight limbs of yoga he, of course, begins with Yama (the first limb) and tells about each of the subheadings that fall within yama. The first of which is ahisma (non-violence). I guess because I'm Christian, I can find all the different facets/ways that these aspects of the limbs of yoga can relate to the ten commandments, because ahisma is similar to the commandment 'Thou Shalt Not Kill'. Iyengar writes, "the yogi believes that to kill or to destroy a thing or being is to insult its Creator." That line caught my eye and stuck with me. Only yoga takes it further than just killing. Ahisma also relates to harming others with words thoughts or deeds, and a yogi refrains from harming others in any way. He/she believes that, even though one may be evil, they can be brought to light and forgiven. A yogi is supposed to help others rather than subject them to prejudice. 

Sounds a lot like Jesus, does it not? Speaking of, Anthony Grim posted recently a blog concerning the Orthodox Church that is a pretty interesting read concerning Jesus and yoga. It can be found here

Next, after ahisma, the book moves into satya or truth. Kind of like the saying, "the truth shall set you free," the same concept applies here. However, Iyengar covers not only speech, but also thoughts. He describes four sins of speech though: "abuse and obscenity, dealing in falsehoods, calumny or telling tales and lastly ridiculing what others hold to be sacred" and then goes further to state, "the man firmly established in truth gets the fruit of his actions without apparently doing anything. God, the source of all truth, supplies his needs and looks after his welfare." To me, so far, this is all reminiscent of the Bible and all the things it describes for us from God. 

Moving forward though, we find asteya or non-stealing. This section, though, covers the act of not coveting anthers life, belonging, or attempting to take what others have. What shocked me the most, I think, was the fact that Iyengar even stated, "He who obeys the commandment Thou shalt not steal, becomes a trusted repository of all treasure." (My bold) So interesting to read it as I am making my own connections.

The next one I have a little trouble understanding. Bramacharya, while I understand it to mean the life of celibacy, religious study and self-restraint. The celibacy still throws me off. Mainly, because marriage isn't thwarted off, but encouraged because "without experiencing human love and happiness, it is not possible to know divine love." So my question is, basically, does one practice celibacy at certain times? Or is marriage, in itself, a form of celibacy since one is no longer tempted by others during bachelor/bachelorette life? The religious study and self-restraint aspect is a bit easier to understand. I think the only saving grace for a bit of understanding is when Iyengar writes, "the brahmachari will use the forces he generates wisely; he will utilize the physical ones for doing the work of the Lord, the mental for the spread of culture and the intellectual for the growth of spiritual life." 

Lastly, but certainly not least, we read about aparigraha or non-hoarding. My basic understanding of this sub-limb of Yama, means that one should not hold worldly possessions close to ones heart. Rid oneself of material attachments to become closer to God. He will provide us with all that we need and therefore do not need to hoard worldly attachments in an attempt to feel successful or even worthy of others approval. Many men/women crave the need for more objects and possessions and then will end up focusing more on their possessions than on the Lord. Relinquish all ties to this world because we are only a passing through as we make our way home to God. There are a lot of things that clutter our lives just as much as they clutter our home. Think of Spring cleaning as a way to rid yourself of attachments that aren't being used. If you go through your belongings and come across things that have dust on them or you haven't used them on a daily basis, chances are you're hoarding it merely because you want to keep it not because you're using it. Give it to someone else who you think might benefit from its use and keep moving with your daily life. 

I only made it through the discussion on Yama and felt it best to stop there and digest what I had read. I will work through Niyama tomorrow, either before or after my practice. I hope to be able to practice later this afternoon— if my body feels up to it at least. I was given some information pertaining to my discomfort in Utanasana and I'm going to give it a shot to see how it works out. Therefore, in substitution for Utanasana I'm going to try Malasana. It may or may not feel comfortable but it's worth a shot if I find myself feeling discomfort in Utanasana again.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Morning Practice Gone Awry../Kumbhaka Chapter from Maehle

I couldn't sleep last night too well. I was up every hour— hooray for a squished bladder. Rather than getting up at 4 am and letting my body wake up and get ready for practice, I chose to sleep until 6:45 instead. I am beginning to think it was the wrong choice.

Starting my practice was... difficult. I began with Surya Namaskara A (sun salutation). That lasted for 3 rounds. Initially, I wanted to complete 3 of A and 3 of B and then move on to the fundamental poses. I was feeling frisky before I started the practice. Frisky didn't last long though. I ended up quitting after 3 A's and 2 B's.

It felt like my uterus was being squeezed every time I folded forward. It didn't matter how wide I spread my legs to fold either. I'm not sure if it was the position my son was in or what, but it definitely made practice difficult and even painful at some points. I was infuriated for a moment because I wanted to go further, but as I dropped back into Child's Pose I realized I was upset for no reason. You can't force yourself to do things because it would only make things worse in the long run. So, as I sat in Child's Pose I breathed and tried to quiet the pain. I completed a few rounds of Cat and Cow and then completed the last round of Surya B and the closing poses.

————————————————————————————————————————

Maehle's chapter on Kumbhaka was quite interesting to read over. There was a lot of information that was gone over and needs to be digested. Another good over read probably wouldn't hurt either.

Kumbhaka, or breath retention, isn't merely holding ones breath. Anyone can attempt to hold their breath and elongate the time one is able to hold their breath. A good example would be free divers, those people can hold their breaths for a really long time as they try to go deeper into the ocean. What separates Kumbhaka from a person holding their breath is the end result.

"When kumbhaka exceeds 10 seconds, the bandhas, i.e. Jalandhara, Mula and Uddiyana bandha, need to be applied . . . The length of all inhalations, retentions and exhalations must be counted to such an extent that their ratio to each other follows precisely a predetermined count (such as 1:4:2) and a predetermined number of rounds is practised" (Maehle 57).

I can't begin to attempt to explain all that this man has included in his book on pranayama and kumbhaka, at least to the extent that he has. However, in this chapter Maehle describes the three lengths of kumbhaka (short, medium and EXTRA long). They are all goals that a yogi attempts to master in their quest to raise Kundalini as well as increase prana (life force). 

The most interesting thing I found in this chapter was a story that Maehle tells of his time ascending the Himalayas with an Indian Shaivite sadhu (religious ascetic). It is a great example of a use of kumbhaka as a way to ignite heat (or angi=fire) within the body. The sadhu would use kumbhaka as a way to heat their bodies in the crisp cool mountain air. It was necessary for them to maintain their warmth because they were not able to enter into any human made habitations (crazy right?).

Maehle states, "after a while, not being bound by a religious vow I forsook my pride and joined the locals inside their house in the vicinity of a smouldering campfire. Despite this – and my expensive Western-made doona sleeping bag – I was woken by the freezing cold. Sheepishly I ventured out into the open, half expecting to find my sadhu either frozen to an ice block or at least suffering from pneumonia. I was surprised to find that he was absolutely fine. He told me he was used to keeping his body temperature stable overnight by use of kumbhaka" (Maehle 62).

The longer one practices kumbhaka the warmer the body becomes, and thereby allowing one to withstand extreme cold temperatures with little clothing. It is amazing what the human body can withstand with so little.

Claudia does a much better explanation on her blog for this particular chapter (and for the others too actually). If you want to read further, you can access her blog on kumbhaka here. OR you can read along with both of us and share your own thoughts by purchasing the book :).


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Yoga: A Religion... Or Is It?

WARNING: This blog contains information that you may or may not agree with. Please be civil in your comments or email me your concerns. This blog is my interpretation of Yoga, and if you disagree I am ok with that but please do not leave foul comments, there are others who may not wish to see them. 

Thank you.

Something has been nagging in the back of my mind lately, and it stemmed from a radio segment my husbands grandmother heard on a Christian radio station. She came to me and told me that she heard a man preach, "Yoga and Martial Arts are against Christianity and God"...Wow.. It took all of my willpower not to get angry at this comment, but most people look at yoga from the outside without trying to understand it. I couldn't help but think to myself "I am a Christian for Pete's sake. How can something as wonderful as yoga be against God?" Yoga does nothing, in regards to religion, but bring one CLOSER to God — at least in my opinion.

[This blog will concentrate on yoga rather than martial arts. Not that I believe martial arts goes against Christianity, but I simply do not practice it.]

I read a blog this morning on Daily Cup of Yoga called Even the Devil Does Yoga, and you may be thinking "Woah now!" but in all actuality, the blog explains that Yoga, in itself, is NOT a religion.

For a practice to be considered a religion:
"The main requirement for a religion to be classified as a religion is that it has a publicly proclaimed set of beliefs that adhere to a specifically named power that goes beyond the physical realm. A religion will generally also involve an organized hierarchy with some type of clergy or formal structure and chain of command."

With that being said, Yoga is not a publicly proclaimed religion (unless those who are ill-informed proclaim it as such). Yoga gives people a way to connect with the Divine— whether they are Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jainism, Jewish, Islamic, or Spiritualist. No where does it state, "You must worship [insert God name here] in order to practice yoga and reap the benefits."

Yoga does, however, provide a way for us as individuals to draw closer to whatever God we worship. In my case, I am a Christian and therefore my practice brings me closer to God and Jesus Christ. Not only am I purifying my body through practice, but also I am becoming a better person by adhering to the discipline of yoga.

Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras, which explains the eight disciplines of yoga, so that people could understand and follow the disciplines of yoga. These eight limbs are ways of purifying oneself, as well as, a way to help draw closer to God.

I took this next section from the afore mentioned blog, because they are very well put.

[For more information on these different limbs please feel free to either shoot me an email or ask in the comments of this blog. I would be more than happy to delve deeper into their meanings for those who are interested]


The eight steps (limbs—my addition) of yoga are as follows:


1: Yama
The word “yama” means restraint, so yoga teaches practicing restraint from unhealthy practices such as violence, stealing, lying, etc.

2: Niyama
This one means observance, or being content, pure, tolerant, remembering and studious.

3: Asana
Asana means physical exercises, and this is the part of yoga that most people are familiar with; the poses such as downward dog, warrior pose, etc.

4: PranayamaPranayama is the breathing techniques that yoga promotes, such as high breathing, low breathing, complete breathing, etc.

5: Pratyahara
This is the time before one settles down to meditate, and is the moment when you are preparing for your meditation. The word can be explained as the withdrawal of the mind from the senses.

6: Dharana
Dharana is the ability to concentrate on one object for a pre-determined amount of time.

7: Dhyana
This is meditation, another yoga principle that most people are familiar with. In involves the ability to focus on just one thing (be it an object, scenery, person, etc) or nothing at all (clearing the mind) for an indefinite period of time.

8: Samadhi
This is absorbing or realizing your own nature, or becoming more self-aware.

So there you have it, the eight limbs of yoga. Yoga is not just about the asanas (or practice) nor is it a religion either. Nothing stated above would hinder anyone from practicing their intended religion either. While the ancient texts may comment or point to stories of other forms of religion, I like to think of them as merely stories that help us along our paths to understanding yoga. There are quite a number of references to different gods, but this in no way insinuates that one has to believe they are gods. Take them as stories, or parables if you will. Learn from what they are teaching and move on.


Oh, David Swenson also has a section that addresses this question. A person, J., asked if practicing yoga is against Christianity, and David responded with this answer here.

Yoga is a wonderful practice that, if looked at with non-prejudice, can help bring balance and peace to life. May those of you who are interested but fearful dip your toes into this wonderful practice and blossom in yourself for having done so. 

If I can be of any assistance to anyone (albeit there are by far many more suitable people out there to better answer your questions I suppose) I would love to help you learn as much as you can to make an informed decision for yourself.

Namaste!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Early Mornings and a Book (or two)

Lately, I've been attempting to get up early so that I can wake up and have a cup of coffee before I practice. Sometimes I fail, but this morning I woke at 6:45 and had a nice cup of joe and read the rest of the third chapter from Maehle's book, Pranayama: The Breath of Yoga.



I'm still two chapters behind Claudia but I'm following her in her Book Club as she goes through the book chapter by chapter. It's quite interesting to read her thoughts on this book. I can't wait to see which book she goes through next :).

Anyways, I finished Chapter 3 today and got some good information out of it. Mainly the different ways to change which nostril I breath through to activate the left or right side of the brain. Now all I need is either a yoga danda or to become really flexible so that I can work my way into Marichi A (or Ekapada Yogadandasana) to activate a particular nostril. 

So far this book is quite interesting. The idea that one can switch which side of the brain is active via the nostrils. When the left nostril is active then the right side of the brain is active and vice versa. Maehle goes over which activities are more prudent for practicing based on which nostril is active. I could attempt to give a stab at explaining this but Claudia does a phenomenal job of explaining them in her blogs Left Nostril More Active? 15 Auspicious Things to do and also Right Nostril More Active? 11 Auspicious Things To Do.

She does such a wonderful job in her exploration and explanation of this book. My attempt would be pale in comparison. I am learning things though. Somedays, I wish I could lay around, like I did as a teenager, and read all day long. Hopefully, I'll get back to that stage. But, nevertheless, to understand what it is I'm referring to in regards to this book, you all should join Claudia and me on this wonderful journey through the world of Pranayama. 

Tomorrow morning I begin tackling Chapter 4 and continuing my journey through Light on Yoga: Yoga Dipika by B.K.S. Iynengar. Join me in reading this enlightening book. I will probably read it twice and comment on it the second go around. I want to absorb everything this first time.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

IT'S FALL! And I Get to Read :)

{Via}
Too bad the leaves around here don't quite turn this quickly. I would love to see trees and leaves look like this down here in Mississippi. Our trees pretty much stay green for quite a while.

How far north do I need to go to experience this gorgeous phenomenon?

Anyways, today (even though it is Saturday) makes day three of no practice :(. I DID finish Chapter 1 of Pranayama: The Breath of Yoga and I can definitely say that I'll need to end up re-reading this book once I'm finished.

I've found that, after reading this first chapter, I need to be well grounded in my practice before beginning pranayama, but I'm not sure exactly how grounded I have to be in order to begin practicing pranayama. Is there a time limit? Or is it merely a feeling that one has when practicing?

What makes me cautious about moving on to anything before I'm ready was what I read on page 28 of this book. Maehle tells about three brothers who meditated with different mindsets and the outcomes that happened to them.

"Famously, the Ramayana  shows the dangers of meditation when not done with a sattvic mind. Of the three demon brothers, the demon kin Ravana practiced meditation with a rajasic mind and wrath became his undoing. His brother Kumbhakarna meditated with a tamasic mind and fell into a deep slumber from which he only rarely woke up. Only the third brother, Vibhishana, meditated with a sattvic mind, and it was only his intellect that gravitated towards the Divine."

Yikes! One devoured by wrath and the other by sleep for not practicing with a sattvic mind. Obtaining a sattvic mind requires asana and pranayama competency. Makes me curious. I've seen people meditate without ever practicing asana, or pranayama for that matter.

I'm not sure how to examine and tell whether I have a tamasic, rajasic, or sattvic mind. I know, I need to do research. I'll get to it. Today, I'm going to try to tackle chapter two of this book. I'm curious to read on and continue the journey through this book.