Welcome to September! On our exploratory journey we now reach Tapas, the third Niyama, or ethical observance of yoga. Tapas is Sanskit for heat. Please see below after this month's News!
In August I returned again to Calgary, Canada to began the accredited yoga therapy certification program that has been my dream for the past 18 months. This program offers a path to health and healing that I wholeheartedly believe in--one that goes more deeply than a typical ‘treat the condition’ therapeutic approach, and instead starts with seeing and uncovering the unique movement and holding patterns in each individual - with recognizing bracing, gripping, tensing in the body or holding of the breath - and helping peel back those patterns to begin the strengthen where there is ease and build stability without pain. There are no templates to follow. There is simply serving each person in their own personal journey to greater wellbeing and ease and supporting their own life practice and transformation. I couldn’t be more grateful to have been accepted into this exclusive program and to be training alongside an inspiring group of gifted fellow teachers.
Let me know how I can help support your own practice and journey towards healing.
September brings some exciting new announcements:
--Therapeutic Yoga Group and Private Session Package: This is a ‘best of both worlds’ blended yoga package to advance your personal health and healing: two therapeutic group classes to guide you in moving in a way that is pain-free and connected to your natural breath, coupled with two private yoga therapy sessions to address your unique needs and progress toward your desired goals. Group class dates are September 17th and October 1st from 2:30-3:45 pm, held at Body Grace Fitness and Yoga in Vienna, VA; private sessions scheduled to meet your needs, held in the privacy of your own home. All props provided. This package limited to just 6 participants and is filling quickly. Reserve your class spot with Jan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Great news! I can come offer a customized workshop or interactive presentation to your group, office or organization. See below for examples of such offerings coming up in September, and contact me to schedule something for you.
--Featured speaker: This month I am sharing with a local church women’s group ways to bring greater balance to mood using breath, movement and stillness.
--Corporate luncheon workshop series. I will also be starting a monthly luncheon corporate workshop series on relieving stress and improving mental focus, using "mini-break" yoga tools for self-care in the office.
Looking forward to October: Amy Weintraub has invited to me again to assist her when she returns to Yogaville to offer a weekend workshop: LifeForce Yoga to Manage Your Mood: Depression and Anxiety. The workshop will take place from October 14-16 and will be held at the Yogaville Satchidananda Ashram in Buckingham, VA. Learn more here.
At first glance, an ethical yoga observance called "heat" might seem odd. No, this is not an ancient and subtle instruction to practice hot yoga. Thankfully again we can find clarity in guidance offered from Deborah Adele’s work The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice. Tapas, or “heat", Adele tells us, “can be translated as catharsis, austerities, self-discipline, spiritual effort, change, tolerance, or transformation. Tapas then has the sense of “cooking” ourselves in the fire of discipline to transform ourselves into something else.
Folks, basically to me is sounds like where the rubber meets the road.
This past month I spent 9 days of intensive training in Canada as part of the yoga therapy certification program I’m pursuing. We delved further into the tools of our trade: breath, movement and stillness.
And, there was so much more. We examined other, deep aspects that impact the crux of becoming and being a gifted yoga therapist who can bring true healing to others. These additional aspects include, among others: being fully present with the people we are helping and working to serve; opening our eyes and hearts to see fully and clearly; clearing one’s own debris with honesty to reveal the essence of our own true selves so that we know what we bring to our personal and professional relationships; and recognizing the importance and practicing our own self-care because without it we can’t fully and properly serve others.
And believe me--this, my friends, requires Tapas.
For one, to be present with others and to see others fully and clearly we need to be able to be present with ourselves and see ourselves fully, clearly, and, honestly. Just like being able to stand in a burning heat, being able to truly be with ourselves--and all of our personal debris--can get a bit uncomfortable.
Adele also tells us that our willingness to stand in the heat includes not only the personal discipline of our action, but also our ability to take the heat when life sends unexpected crisis, pain, or grief our way. When we find that we are in a “barren place, where we have exhausted all that we have and all that we are . . . new strength is shaped and character is born if we choose to fearlessly open ourselves to the experience.” Adele adds that we can’t prevent these times of catharsis in our lives or know their shape or outcome, but we can prepare ourselves for them through our daily practice, through building our ability to stay in unpleasantness, and through small, daily choices we make.”
When we can do this--stay in heat of tapas without running from the experience--this is when we open ourselves to the gift of growth in our lives.
And our daily choices? Well, here we can take a good look at the inputs in our lives - how we fuel our body and mind with food, exercise, sleep, relationships, entertainment, spiritual practice (you name it)- and what we send out into the world through work, service, words (you name it). All of our inputs and all of our outputs are part of our daily practice.
The first step is to become aware. The second step is to notice. And we all individually make a choice about the third step - to be and/or take action and the appropriateness of this action.
Adele tell us that “each moment is an opportunity to make a clear choice of right action. Quite often the choices that prepare us for the fire are options that vote against immediate satisfaction and pleasure. When we listen to our inner voice and surrender to staying present to the unknown, the unpleasant, and often to the grief and pain, we are preparing ourselves to benefit from and be blessed by Tapas.”
So it is September. For many families, it is the month to ‘get back to it’ - the post-summer, family-driven routines that require our self-discipline. For many, it means the load of what we take on increases as well.
This September, give yourself an additional gift by practicing Tapas. Allow yourself to be present, even in the heat of new load. Invite some honest reflection of your daily inputs and how these serve or don’t serve your personal daily practice--and in that clear some of your own debris. Commit to self-care in a way to does serve you -- a “clear choice of right action.” And reap the bounty of Tapas’ blessing.
With light and love,
Blog Archives including Heart Tree Yoga's Yamas and Niyamas Study from January-December 2016 and seasonal newsletters.