Monday, August 31, 2009

so much more




Aparigraha Sthairye Janmakathamta Sambodhah.


Yoga Sutra 2:39

When I'm not looking for something that is outside of myself, I can just about transcend time. I'm not afraid of the future. The past, present and future are the same. Instead of seeing myself as a victim of something in the past, I can fearlessly let go of my own story or identity. Seeking to transform and become steadfast, that's Aprigraha. Otherwise, when I hold on to that defining story of me, I think I'm free when actually, I'm striving.

"We are so much more than our story. 
We can re-create ourselves anytime we want to." Adi 

Having too much ambition, is it damaging? People think you're trying to be something that's not really the essence of yoga when you ask for more than what they perceive to be "reasonable". Reasonable amount of money to spend on yoga or reasonable amount of time spent practicing or teaching. What would happen if I didn't get caught in my drama or everyone else's for that matter? What if I paused instead and sought to lose the intension of my own campaigning or grasping.

If only I could find and have vision to see beyond myself consistently. That vision could be the breath of life that revives my tired spirit.

Why do I often feel like I have to be perfect? I don't. I don't have to try to be perfect. I'm already whole. I just have to practice. Practice gratitude. Practice letting go of control. And with practice, begin to navigate my own uniqueness and give up all (at least all that I'm trying so desperately to obtain). I don't think it's so much reinvention of me, as it is a glimmer of who I already am underneath it all.

Perfectly me. Imperfectly perfect. Practically fearless.





Sunday, August 30, 2009

Courage-- From the Heart




Courage

Watching the boys chase the waves while in California last week, I looked down, and there was a small red-ish stone in the shape of a heart. So, I formed a small heart out of white stones. A woman walked up to me just as I was finishing. She explained that she's a local artist and collects heart shaped stones. She comes out regularly just to see what she can find. She said she rarely finds one as perfectly shaped as the one I found. Taking a photo of my creation, I reached down, and handed her the stone. Touched, she asked my name and said when she looked at it, she will remember the simple gesture of kindness. Then she continued her search along the shore. I've always been a believer in serendipity. When you're aware and open to it... beautiful things can and do happen.

While in Portland, I went to possibly the greatest bookstore I've ever been to, Powell's. It's so dense that I think I could have spent all day there-- and a lot of money, I'm sure. Found a book by Osho, Courage. The Joy of Living Dangerously. Coincidentally, (serendipity!) as encouragement, Stephanie emailed a quote from this book shortly after. This theme was woven into my Oregon experience again and again. And, now at home. I find myself clinging to it.

"The word courage... comes from a Latin root cor, meaning "heart". So to be courageous means to live with the heart. The way of the heart is the way of courage. It is to live in insecurity; it is to live in love, and trust; it is to move in the unknown. It is leaving the past and allowing the future to be. Courage is to move on dangerous paths. Life is dangerous, and only cowards can avoid the danger-

...A person who is alive, really alive, vitally alive, will always move into the unknown. There is danger there, but he will take the risk. The heart is always ready to the take the risk, the heart is a gambler. The head is a businessman. The heart is non calculating.

...the heart dreams about the future. The future is yet to be. The future has yet a possibility-- it will come, it is already coming. Every moment the future is becoming the present, and the present is becoming the past. The past has no possibility, it has been used. You have already moved away from it--... The future is like a seed; it is coming, ever coming, always reaching and meeting with the present. The present is nothing but a movement into the future. It is the step that you have already taken; it is going into the future."

Living each day with heart,

Melissa


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Living Yoga




What is Yoga?

YS 1:1, Yoga is now explained.

YS 1:2, Yoga is restraining the activities of the mind.

YS 1:14, Yoga is continual practice and devotion that is grounded in awareness, so that it becomes effortless.

Yoga is union. Not separate. Everything is connected.

Yoga is not a religion, it is a practice. To be done every minute with commitment. And, you can't (or shouldn't) teach anything that you don't practice.

What's the difference between doing yoga and living yoga? Put 2 people in the very same situation, one will suffer and the other will not. That is yoga.

Yoga is not done to "save the planet"; it's to save ourselves.

Focused surrender is Yoga. Die to ego.

In the Bhagavad Gita, The song of God, Krishna said that the separation from pain and suffering (ignorance) is Yoga.

Traditional meditation is yoga. A state of consciousness and living in awareness.

If you're not married to your idea of yoga, you're not getting it.

Karma Yoga is not just service-- but it IS life, a way of life. Taking away the need for recognition. Have freedom from the goal; it's about the journey.

Dhyana Yoga is meditation, a deep sense of unity and a radical transformation of your inner self.

Bhakti Yoga is devotion. Replacing the individual will with the sacred and Divine to tap into your potential.

Raja Yoga is classical Yoga or all techniques.

Vijnana Yoga is bliss.


As I finish this list, I came across something Stephanie said... "speak from your experience rather than regurgitating what you've been told." There is value, so much value in that statement. I can type out all the notes from our month long experience... but if I'm not living it, breathing it, and doing what I know to be true daily, of what use is it?

Living Yoga,

Melissa




Friday, August 28, 2009

Gratitude



A happy heart... that's what I tell my kids they need to have! Most of the time, I'm asking, where is your happy heart?! Last night at the dinner table, we asked the kids to "go around the table" and say what they are thankful for. Which we thought it meant, share one a time. But, Drew, my 3 1/2 year old, promptly got up out of the chair and starting marching around the table saying all that he was thankful for... I can't even recall what he said, really because we were laughing so hard. Then, we each took turns walking around the table listing our gratitude's! Kids are so literal and yet, how great was it that he didn't even hesitate to share his blessings!

After dinner, I took a walk (I'm sure that really surprises all my yognis in the hood!), to watch the gorgeous Texas sunset, and with every step, started counting my blessings. What was I grateful for? Love, my kids, challenges, unexpected blessings, teaching, yoga, amazing friendships, family, shoes to walk in, sunsets.... Life! By the time I got home I felt like doing Anand's "cure for depression" a standing backbend, with arms wide open. He said in class once, it's impossible to be depressed in this pose!

Anand also said, when you understand your alone-ness, there will be immense opportunity to love. LOVE. GRATITUDE. JOURNEY.

What are you thankful for?

Blessings,

Mel



Thursday, August 27, 2009

Transformation




Breaking through who you thought you were and seeing that you are something more.

This is what Adi, Stephanie's husband and Dharma teacher, repeated throughout one of his flow classes... Breaking through who you thought you were and seeing that you are something more.

This for me, meant a change in the way I view myself. Can I step away from what my thoughts are (I'm not qualified or good enough... someone doesn't like my class... I'm too tough on my kids... or I am to critical of others or I am... whatever my "identity or label" is) and instead realize I do not have to become my thoughts and feelings. How can I replace these inner patterns or impressions (Samskaras)? These Samskaras are our "inner, emotional, and physical default settings". How can I reset them?

His suggestion, look at your intention, one layer at a time. What's your first layer? Second layer? Then, to learn a new pattern in the body and mind, practice it constantly. In our physical yoga practice, most of us go too far too fast, accelerating through to the doing process. While the discipline of a yoga practice (Asana) is to use it as a vehicle for meditation. So many days, I just focus on the body, don't you? Very little introspection.

As I write, it's 6.30am, and both of my boys come tumbling into my room, tackling, and tickling asking for breakfast... so the day begins. Time is a precious commodity. Learning to break through my Samskara, believing that I am more than just a mom... just a teacher... just... is a choice and practice to cultivate.

Melissa

Just changing outward circumstances will not change the experience of life.
YS (Yoga Sutra) 4:9

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Just Beginning





Going back through the original agenda that our host, Stephanie Adams, Yogafit Master Trainer, sent to us before we arrived, I have to smile. About a week or so into the training, she realized that we were getting a lot more lecture than asana (physical practice) and asked Anand, our teacher, to add that back in... but let's just say everything was on "India time"... lecture that was to be one hour, was usually 2 or 3 hours. And asana was mainly pranayama or Kriya based. Which, I feel was actually perfect. I think everything happens for a reason, and that we got exactly what we were suppose to get out of the training including valuable female relationship dynamics. (Nothing like sharing a space of 2 rooms and 2 bathrooms with 11 women and a number of revolving guests!)

Sessions with Anand meant he would just simply talk... lecture without notes or seemingly a care in the world. He would often close his eyes and reflect for a moment or pause before starting to focus attention and mindfully be guided in the discussion. His amount of knowledge was just tremendous. And, as the days wore on... and our attention span and was up and down...he was sensative to our questions and at the same time demanded that WE be open minded to the teaching and respectful of his reply. I never felt reprimanded but did feel his frustrations in the beginning, but toward the end, sensed his joy in how each one of us began to see things in a new light and began to relate what we were learning to our own circumstances and lives.

Real life. Lived out. Yoga without a mat. Imagine that.

Yoga Sutras 1:14
Sa Tu Dirgha Kala Nairantarya Satkarasevito Drdhabhumih.

"Continual practice and devotion that is deeply grounded and without doubt. Living Yoga through awareness, so that it becomes effortless."

Enjoy the day--

Melissa


Our journey... (comments in bold)









Anand & Puja

Day 1:

Shuttles from airport (The women I met on the shuttle... soon became bunk--mates and intimate confidants)

Welcome Circle/Satsang

Trip to Grocery Store (some of us stocked up like we were preparing for a hurricane, others just the necessities... how different we are from the start!)

Mon, Tues, Weds & Fri:


7:30-11 am Master Classes (taught by each one of us daily), PEP, Pose Breakdown & Satsang (42 hrs) with Stephanie (ummm... this was an amazing opportunity to see how each of us taught yoga... I learned a lot and gleaned something special from each person.)

11-1 free (
1-2:30 Chanting, Satsang & Theory with Anand (18) (OK, this schedule... not really happening this way... very fliexi.)
Half hour break


3-4 Chanting, Meditation, & Pranayama with Anand (12)
One Hour Break


5-7 pm Integrated Practice with Anand (22) (Um... just 3 times, in 3 weeks... no worries... was meaningful each time.)



Thurs:

Master Class with Steph (6) (a walking mediation to the river twice - at the crack of dawn, then joining Stephanie at flow for a class there. Which I loved!! It's a totally different dynamic to join her in a large group setting-- trainees mixed with regular folk was a great combo)

Chanting, Satsang & Theory with Anand (6) (again, this was so flexi, as we were on "India time" and whatever suited for the day!) Hour break

2-3 Chanting, Meditation, & Pranayama with Anand (3)
One Hour Break


4-6 pm Integrated Practice with Anand (6)
Break
7-9 pm Satsang/Shared Dinner with Steph (6)



Sat:

6:30-10 am Master Classes, PEP, Pose Breakdown & Satsang with Stephanie (10.5) (hum... we started later than that-- and loved that we had at least 36 hours on our own time... we needed it... even if Jules, Marliee and Beshka and I went and did more yoga in Portland!)FREE from 10 am Saturday until 6 pm Sunday for excursions, etc.


Sun:

6-8 pm Satsang/Shared Dinner with Steph (6)

LAST COUPLE DAYS:

Tues, Aug 11th:
7:30-11 am Master Classes, PEP, Pose Breakdown & Satsang (3.5 hrs) with Stephanie (did we do this? I don' think so... it ended up a little different for many reasons...)

11-1 free
1-2:30 Chanting, Satsang & Theory with Anand (1.5)
Half hour break


3-4 Chanting, Meditation, & Pranayama with Anand (1)
One Hour Break


5-7 pm Closing Practice/Circle with ALL (2)

Weds, August 12th:

7-9 am Integrated Practice with Anand and Puja (2) (This was the most beautiful class we had. I'm sure most of you would agree... as I saw many a tear and emotions were running high on the last day.)

Bring comfortable walking/hiking shoes and your swimsuit. (I know a few of us dipped in the pool. I however, spent most of my free time walking up a hill, any chance I got!) There is an unheated lap pool in the green house off the sanctuary, and great local lakes and rivers for swimming. Amazing waterfalls to hike to abound throughout the Gorge. We may choose to do some our sessions outdoors. (Many of us went on hikes -- to a waterfall and others to Mt. Hood-- just beautiful.)

TEACHING TO YOUR AUTHENTIC STRENGTHS You will each be leading one integrated asana practice during our time in Mysore. Stephanie lead the first master class. Your class will need to be from 90 minutes to 2 hrs long (no shorter and no longer ) and include some Sanskrit, asana, pranayama and an integrated theme where you integrate chakra symbolism/visualization, or sutra and/or Gita references (similar to classes taught in Level 4). This class will also focus on using your *Strengths to be, authentically, the best teacher you can be.

CONNECTING ONE-ON-ONE

In addition, you will each sign-up to assist/adjust one class during our time together. (This was wonderful-- to see how many of us had never adjusted before, touched and added to our postures was amazing!)

The last 90-120 minutes of our time together each morning will look like this:

* If used, the teacher will be required to breakdown physical execution of any poses taught in class that are not from the YogaFit manuals using SPA (Seven Principles of Alignment) and/or teachings from your YogaFit Anatomy & Alignment training. We will also break down some of the poses Anand teaches in this same way, from time to time.

* Finally, each day, we will do a PEP (Praise, Encourage, praise-- I highly recommend this practice for every day life... works with children, spouses, co-workers, really everyone!) session for the previous day's teacher and the previous days's assistant. Each of us will have a homework assignment to prepare for each teacher that will evaluate use of their Strengths* using PEP Feedback that will be due the following day.

* Finally, we will practice refining techniques learned in our RYT 200 hr programs, including adjusting/assisting. We may integrate Satsang, pranayama or meditation into our time together. (Ok, really we had very little time left over after PEP but Stephanie worked hard to find it!)

Satsang

We will additionally have satsang, at least, 2-3 times a week (sometimes over a shared meal of our choice). Perhaps, dinner at a restaurant in town or a potluck at the sanctuary. We will also have an initial satsang on the first day, Weds July 22nd at 4 pm. (I enjoyed satsong... and feel like it was truly a time where we could ask anything)

Homework To Be Done

www.authentichappiness.com and do the *Strengths questionnaire. Please do the VIA Signature Strengths Test (it will take about 15 minutes to complete - do not do the "short" version). (This was so beneficial... and great insight to each other's strengths and how our teaching matched or didn't match them. Take it now, if you haven't.)

Just Breathe


Hood River, Oregon

Yogafit 500 hour RYT program

Having just returned from one of the most transformational experiences of my life, I like many of the ten other women that went through this journey with me, are having to adjust to the day to day routines of the real world. Back to our families, homes, students, and the reality of life. Someone asked me what my experience was like and I had a difficult time putting it into words. So, this is my attempt to share what we experienced and learned.

Going back through my chicken scratch notes, I'll try as best I can to glean some insights from our thoughtful teacher Anand and Puja. I hope to do it justice. And, I hope to share what I'm learning day to day back in Texas as I go through some major life changes and adjustments.

I hope you yogi's in the hood will join me in posting. I would love to have a chronicle and discussion of what we learned, hope to share with our students, and how we're applying it (or not) to our lives.

Just Breathe

Breathing was all I had in mind when I arrived. I just needed to breathe. But, that quickly changed to being in the moment. Committing to LIVING totally in the present.

I have to be real and say how little philosophy that I knew coming into this training. It really wasn't until I was totally immersed in Hood River—Heart Gate Sanctuary – that I have seen such love in action. Women truly devoted to a practice – not a physical one- because, frankly, that’s what I thought I would be challenged most on. When, in fact, that was the least challenging aspect of all for me (other than a few Kriyas, moving meditation). But, a practice that goes deeper—into our hearts and out through our actions. We all seemed to be gaining courage and feeding off each other’s intense and sometimes quiet energy. It was a roller coaster of emotions- an explosion of deep respect and gratitude for 10 women who I never met before – and now am completely bonded with for life over an experience that has and will define my life for years to come.

"WE are all struggling toward that one end, through our jealousies and hatreds, through our love and cooperation. A tremendous stream is flowing toward the ocean carrying us all along with it, and though like straws and scraps of paper, we may at times float aimlessly about in the long run we are all sure to join the Ocean of Life and Bliss." (Pathway to Joy)

Enjoy the day- Live...

Melissa