Welcome to May. This month our study of the yoga’s ethical principles --the Yamas and Niyamas -- brings us to Aparigraha --Sanskrit for nonpossessiveness. Please see below after this month's News!
Several announcements for May!
I am absolutely thrilled to share some personal news: after an application process I have been invited into the Functional Synergy IAYT Accredited Yoga Therapy Certification Program! This is an 1000-hour program that has been recognized by the International Association of Yoga Therapists as meeting the standards for yoga therapists that were updated in 2012. It is an exciting honor and privilege to continue the study I began last year under Susi Hately - and continue to help students and clients learn to move better, feel better in their bodies, release bodily tension and get out of pain. If you’d like to experience this yourself, reach out to book a customized private session with me and we’ll get started!
Class Announcements for May!
Functional Movement: This month we’ve got another Therapeutic Yoga for Shoulders and Hips scheduled for Saturday, May 14th, 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 note that last month this class proved very popular and filled quickly! Reserve your spot early for the May class by contacting Jan at email@example.com.
Group Class Announcement: New Time for Sunrise Class! Beginning Thursday, May 5, the sunrise class at Body Grace will have a later start time. Class will now run from 6:30-7:30 am! A much more civilized time - and totally doable! What a way to start your day. Come out and see!
May. This month our study of the yoga’s ethical principles --the Yamas and Niyamas -- brings us to Aparigraha --Sanskrit for nonpossessiveness.
What does nonpossessiveness mean? Deborah Adele, in her book on the Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice, defines it for us as “nonattachment, nongreed, nonclinging, nongrasphing, and noncoveting.“ She tells us we can “simply think of it as being able to ‘let go.’”
Ah. Letting go.
Why do we cling and grasp and covet? Why do we seek to possess and hold onto? What drives our greed at times?
I think it is fear.
Fear can be such a driver for our actions and our moods. We grasp and cling and resist letting go because we fear that by letting go we will be 'less'. We will not measure up. We will not be ENOUGH. So perhaps we cling to possessions or situations or relationships or our own notions of what our future should hold. Or maybe we cling to our feelings or stories about others and ourselves.
A marvelous Zen story about two traveling monks comes to mind to illustrate this point. I’ve read several variations of the story and particularly love the version in a children’s book called Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth. Essentially, it is this: an elder and a younger monk come to a river crossing where they encounter a woman who needs to make the crossing. The elder monk carries her across the river so that her clothing doesn’t get soiled and deposits her on the other side and she departs. As the monks continue on their journey, the younger monk is silent and brooding until finally, in frustration, he exclaims to the elder monk that the woman never offered her thanks for their service. To this the elder monk replies, “I put the woman down hours ago. Why are you still carrying her?”
How often do we carry our attachments to the point that they become burdens?
Letting go can be truly hard work. It can be scary. It is walking into life’s mystery with open arms. It is relinquishing the semblance of control and embracing each day as it comes.
So what can we do? And what does any of this have to do with our practice on our mat?
Here is the beauty that Adele shares with us: she says to turn to the “breath as the teacher.” Allowing the simple focus on releasing the exhalation and inviting our next inhalation. “What if we could trust life like we trust the breath? What if we could take in all the nourishment of the moment and let it go fully, trusting that more nourishment will come?”
In this same fashion she goes on to suggest that we allow life to nourish us and be prepared to “experience full intimacy and contact with the moment, and then let go so that the next thing will come.”
“On” our mat this can mean really feeling, experiencing and even relishing each new breath and then, with ease, letting that breath go. Or as we move into a pose, letting go of what our body felt last month, last week or even in the last moment--and instead welcoming anew the feelings that arise and relishing the experience as our body speaks its unique language to us in the present moment.
“Off” the mat into our daily lives it means nurturing a practice of letting go and deciding to not carry the burdens of our attachments, whatever they may be. To cultivate an understanding within us of what it means to be nourished by our relationships, situations, possessions and experiences but not be burdened by them or controlled by the fear of their loss. To grow to realize that ultimately the whole of who we are is so much more than our attachments --and that our attachments very often are just passing anyways. With this realization, we can begin to let go of our fear.
So in May, our practice ground starts simply. We can take up Adele’s wisdom and start with our breath as our teacher. We can notice the sensations of letting go with our exhalation and being nourished with each new inhalation. Then take this guidance into our daily lives and simply notice what we cling to and how often these attachments are also just things that will pass.
To close, one small tale: Some months ago I saw a picture featuring a young monk resting on a doorstep with a sweet smile on his sleeping face. And the caption said, “Relax. Nothing is under control.” It made me laugh. I hope you also enjoy this bit of wisdom.
Wishing you a beautiful May of letting go. Relax and release your burdens.
With light and love,
Blog Archives including Heart Tree Yoga's Yamas and Niyamas Study from January-December 2016 and seasonal newsletters.