Welcome to April. This month our study of the yoga’s ethical principles --the Yamas and Niyamas -- brings us to Brahmacharya --Sanskrit for nonexcess. Please see below after this month's News!
Several announcements for April!
April Specialty Classes:
Functional Movement: I’m excited that another Therapeutic Yoga for Shoulders and Hips is scheduled for Saturday, April 16th, 2:30-4:00 pm, at Body Grace Fitness and Yoga in Vienna, VA.
This class is a terrific way to become more deeply attuned to your body's inner messages, particularly if you tend to experience limitation through your shoulders and hips. Through small, mindful and gentle yoga-inspired therapeutic movements (seated, standing and supine) and a connection to natural breath, participants can quiet tension and nurture calm in both muscle and mind as they explore their optimal range of motion and then apply this knowledge to yoga poses.
Please reserve a spot with Jan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mood Management: I will be teaching a Balancing Mood with LifeForce Yoga® on Saturday, April 23rd 2:30-4:00 pm, at Body Grace Fitness and Yoga in Vienna, VA. This is a great class for learning how to empower yourself to bring focus and energy or calm to your being depending upon your inner needs.
This past month I had the honor and pleasure of assisting Amy Weintraub, author of Yoga for Depression, during a local workshop on using LifeForce Yoga® techniques. Amy is such an inspiration!
Private Sessions Practicum: Contact me to experience the benefits and difference that customized yoga therapy for improved functional movement can make in helping relieve bodily pain, tension and tightness. Learn how nurture ease in movement to improve your individual movement patterns overall. Click here for more information about the practicum special.
Nonexcess. Our ethical principle Yamas and Niyamas topic for April. There is no surprise in noting that we are immersed in a culture of excess. Work. Sleep. Food. Exercise. Media. Sex. Chocolate (separate really from food.) Coffee.
You know the drill. Nearly anything could make the list, right? Add ‘oholic’ to the end and we’re all on the same page.
How though, does our excess take away from the whole of our being? How can it take away from the fullness of a yoga practice on our mats? How might it take away from the richness of our daily lives?
To start, let me share that this past month I participated in a friend’s mindfulness project. I’ve mentioned her here before -- Martha Brettschneider, who recently published Blooming into Mindfulness: How the Universe Used a Garden, Cancer, and Carpools to Teach Me that Calm is the New Happy (check it out at http://amzn.to/1LUfYal). This March she challenged her reader community on Facebook to participate in a photo-a-day project to encourage greater mindfulness of the beautiful unfolding of spring.
Now I’m not a super great photographer. But it was a blessing to participate in this project, because otherwise my excessing self quite honestly might have missed the early unfolding of spring entirely. Not only did the project make me stop for a few mindfulness moments to capture a picture here and there, but also I found myself noticing nature unfolding when the camera wasn’t at the ready.
And it got me thinking about how nature unfolds. And of course, nature unfolds when it’s time. When the conditions call it forth.
Nature doesn’t rush into things; it doesn’t force. Its’ mantra isn’t “no pain, no gain.” It doesn’t heap abuse and excess upon itself. It lets go when its time to let go, it is still when it is time to be still, and it grows when it is time to grow. It listens within for the signs.
When we move into excess, we stop listening. We stop listening to the body’s signals about “enough.” We let outward messages determine our path and our pace. The result is an unfolding that is not in harmony with the balancing inner needs of our body, mind & soul.
Deborah Adele, in her book on the Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice, describes how practicing Brahmacharya allows us to recognize “enough” and allows us to embrace the wonder, awe, and mystery of life with a sense of sacredness. To experience these with a “sense of holiness rather than indulgence.”
But what does this mean for a yoga practice on our mat?
My teacher, Susi Hately, often refers to developing an awareness of our personal “yellow lights.” Allowing ourselves to hear the body’s early warning messages rather than pushing through to a desired outcome and blowing past these yellow lights (until the body flashes a big red “No.’” As it definitely will, eventually.) It means allowing our practice to unfold according to what “is”rather than our attachment to “ought.” So, for example, rather than pushing ourselves deeper into a pose than the body is ready for (and pushing into strain), allowing ourselves the space, time, and patience to grow and unfold according to the body’s inner messages about our path and pace. As Susi says, “the body doesn’t lie.”
And what might this mean off our mat, in our daily lives? Well, the body speaks to us here too. When we listen, we can hear when we are moving into excess, past “enough.” We can hear the tipping of the balance between body, mind and soul. We can hear if it is time to let go, be still, or grow and unfold.
So this April: love yourself and unfold according to your own true path and pace. Practice nonharm, embrace truth, and experience vitality and the fullness of your own self by taking your cue from the beauty and harmonious unfolding of spring. Let your body speak to you. Listen and hear. And know within you the sacredness and awe of “enough.”
With light and love,
Blog Archives including Heart Tree Yoga's Yamas and Niyamas Study from January-December 2016 and seasonal newsletters.