Resuming where we left off! 1 whole week!

A lot can happen in 7 days. That’s how long it’s been since my last blog post.

We were talking about the Yimas and Niyamas. Which is a part of the 8 limbs of yoga. So the the 3rd limb of yoga is the asanas.

The Asanas are our poses we do, to stay in meditation longer. The longer we can stay in meditation the more we can learn about ourselves. Having a leaner body or to be able to sit comfortably free from distractions so we can contemplate the universes and our place in it.

Pranayama is the 4th limb of yoga which broken down means Prana is life force while ayama means to control or extend. Learning to breathe properly is essential. The practice of yoga calls ya to pay close attention to the process of our breathing, something we take for granted.

There are many types of breathing techniques that we can use to cleanse and help meditate. We will discuss those in a whole other section.

The 5 limb of yoga is Pratyshara, which means basically withdrawal from the senses. Pratyahara is self observation and controlling our senses. Pratyahara is the ability to maintain inner peace when you are surrounded by chaos. It is withdrawing from the senses and bringing awareness inside. We rely on Pratyahara to turn the gaze inward, while remaining objective. Pratyahara assists us with finding power over our cravings or habits that are self-destructive. I often find myself going inside during turmoil to find silence to work out what’s going on.

Dharana – Dharana is concentration. Each one of the 8 limbs of yoga prepares us for the next limb. Praytahara helps us to escape the senses and draw inside so that we can prepare for dharana, or concentration. Dharana is focusing on one single item. Perhaps one uses dharana to focus on God, or a being higher than oneself. Dharana might also be a focus on an unrelated single point, such as a sound or something happening inside the body. Concentration prepares the mind for meditation.

Our 7 limb is Dhyana – Dhyana is meditation. In meditation (dhyana), one experiences uninterrupted concentration, non-duality, the experience of little or no thought process happening. It differs from dharana in that dharana involves concentration on one point, whereas dhyana is concentration with no focus whatsoever. Imagine totally emptying the mind in an uninterrupted concentrated state – that is dhyana.

Our 8th limb is Samadhi – Samadhi is to stand outside of. This is a stage of ecstasy. Once you come into oneness with the focal point from your concentration in the dharana stage, you reach samadhi. It is about connection — connection to self, connection to something greater than self, connection to all living things, connection to divine energy, connection to bliss or happiness. Some refer to this as enlightenment. Others may name it peace. It is the final stage of the 8 fold path and the goal of the other 7 limbs.

So you see limbs 1-6 are things we do. Limbs 7-8 are things that happen to us as we work through the first 6 limbs.

Ishvara Pranidhana

So sorry I missed yesterday, things got so busy at work. Here is our last Niyama.

Ishvara Pranidhana is devotion, dedication and surrender to the Highest Love. Everyone has their own personal interpretation of this niyama. For some people, it is a spiritual deity, for others it is the universe or a universal energy. Whatever your personal interpretation of this niyama is should be acknowledged.

This is a two-fold concept. It involves karma yoga and surrender. Patanjali teaches us that in order to experience the true goal of yoga, we must let go of the ego and let go of the constant intertwining of self with ego. To do this, we have to take the benefits we receive from our practice and give them as an offering. This is known as karma yoga. As we offer our karma yoga, we experience a connection with a power greater than ourselves. This is the oneness, the surrender, that is Ishvara Pranidhana.

As a yoga teacher, you may offer community classes from time to time. You may do charity benefits or some other form of giving or donation. This is karma yoga. As you participate in this form of karma yoga, you will likely feel the divine connection that leads you to the experience of Ishvara Pranidhana. When you end your practice and “Namaste,” you may experience Ishvara Pranidhana.

I myself, think of universal energy. I thank the universe for whatever energy I am receiving. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes my ego gets in the way of receiving the message. I know I plan on offering community classes and volunteering my time for service. I feel that as teachers we should be of service to our communities.

Namaste.

Svadhyaya

Our Niyama today is svadhyaya. It’s about self study. We must study ourselves deeply, know our inward and outward desires, strengths, and weaknesses. It’s about figuring out which desire we should silence and which we should build on. It’s about learning what is standing between you and total contentment. It’s about learning everything about yourself so you can connect to something higher than yourself.

The more we realize who we are not, the more we know who we are. The ego will betray us and cause us to take actions and speak words that do not reflect who we really are. There is a part of the self that has a primary goal of survival. This side of the self goes for what it desires in every circumstance, at all costs. There is another part of the self that feeds into judgments and criticisms and constantly causes us to second guess ourselves and undermine what we already know to be true. As we study ourselves and learn more about ourselves, we learn what we need individually to become closer to unity with the universe.

When we are performing our home practice, it is the perfect time for self study. We have no distractions, it’s just us and our mat. As we work through our meditation or asanas we are able to revel things about ourselves we might not have thought about before.

I hope everyone goes to their mats today and discovers something new about themselves they already didn’t know. I look forward to y’all sharing if you want to.

Namaste

Today it’s Tapas

Tapas is about finding your willpower and refraining from doing desires that does not benefit you, but on the flip side it’s doing the things you don’t desire to benefit you. There will be times in our lives when our desires contradict our benefits or journey. During these times, an internal fire is built to burn our mental and physical impurities. This fire creates a disciplined passion that pushes us towards our personal greatness.

So tapas is about discipline, finding the willpower to do what you said you were going to do. So you tell your friend you will go watch a movie with them. You had a hard day at work, the movie starts in a couple of hours all you really want to do is be a broccoli at home. But you gather up the willpower to go see the movie with your friend, who had been looking forward to seeing you all week.

This carries over to your work, say you have to write a paper for work, it’s long and you want to go have fun. But you write your paper and get a promotion. So had you given in to your desire to go have fun, you probably wouldn’t hand gotten that promotion that you had been trying to get.

Niyamas Day 2

Today is day 2 and the niyama we are talking about today is Santosha. This is the practice of contentment, non coveting, or desiring possessions that are not yours. This is about accepting where you are right now.   To practice santosha is not to lose all ambition and be content to sit back in an idle fashion.   To practice santosha is to accept what you already have, appreciate what you already have, and move forward from there.

Many of the things we seek in life cause us to look outside of ourselves for joy (i.e., finding a partner, falling in love, having children, buying a home, buying a car, getting a new job, finishing a degree, getting a promotion). As we jump from goal to goal in life, knocking each goal down for that sense of achievement, satisfaction and “happiness,” we find ourselves juggling happiness, sadness, fear, love and loss. We celebrate our destinations, sometimes forgetting about the journey that brought us there. Forgetting the hurdles we jumped, the overtime put in at a job. The lessons we learn on our journeys should be valued and celebrated.

Santosha is about finding contentment along the journey, all we need really lies inside of ourselves. We need nothing outside of ourselves to be happy. To practice santosha is to be freed from the suffering that stems from always wanting more and never feeling satisfied. Santosha is about acceptance and contentment. If you are seeking happiness, you needn’t seek any longer because it lies inside of you already.

Ever go shopping but didn’t really need anything, but a friend got a new purse and she just looks so happy with her purse that it made you want a new purse? Nothing is wrong with your purse, you like your purse. But her purse just looks like it can make you happier. Mediate and try to find your contentment, try to figure out why you are wanting more.

Let me know how it goes. Until tomorrow my friends.

Namaste.

Niyamas Day 1

Our niyamas are about our personal observances and self-discipline. Niyamas are our relationship to self. Niyamas include how we respond internally to external stimulation, and the ability to establish and maintain a sense of self integrity. If you have strong religious convictions, this may mean that you attend your services regularly or you say grace before your meals. Niyamas involve self care, which may include meditation, self-love and simply creating time in your busy life to care for yourself and keep up with your personal observances. Think about being true to yourself. The niyamas are about having peace with yourself. Our niyamas are about our personal observances and self-discipline.

There are 5 Niyamas: Saucha, Santosha, Tapas, Svadhyaya, and Ishvara Pranidhana.

We will just take one Niyama a day so we can really delve into them. I would love to have any discussions with you guys as we work through these!

Saucha: is the practice of purification. Traditional yogis were wise and knew that impurities, and uncleanliness, both externally and internally, stand in the way of achieving ultimate enlightenment and spiritual liberation. There are traditional means of practicing saucha and then there are more modern ways of practicing saucha.

Traditionally, the use of a neti pot for nasal cleansing was used. Dhauti, which is a means of cleaning the digestive tract and Bhasti, or colon cleansing, is one form of Dhauti. Also there is Nauli that another form of Dhauti, and is an abdominal massage, sometimes referred to as “churning.” I have had the abdominal massage, and it feels amazing as well as stimulated my digestive system to expel.

Another traditional form that I myself use is Kappalabhati, or “shining skull breath.” It’s a very powerful nasal cleanser as well as the frontal lobe. It takes practice but is well worth getting the hang of it. Another traditional form is Trakata or “blinkless gazing,” sometimes called “candle gazing.” I use the candle gazing often during meditation, it usually helps me relax quicker into the meditation.

This day and age most yogis stick with showering and having good hygiene, eating holistic food, decluttering their space not only their personal work space but also their mind space. Keeping their mats cleaned, keeping their equipment clean. Another good practice is the daily mantra of “letting go of that which does not serve you”!

So start today and think of ways you can clean and declutter your personal space. If you do, please tell me how it goes and how you feel.

Last 2 Yamas.

The last 2 yamas means non wasting and no possessiveness. So Yama 4!

The next yama is brahmacharya, one of the most difficult for Westerners to understand. The classical translation is “celibacy,” but Brahma is the name of a deity, char means “to walk,” and ya means “actively,” so brahmacharya means “walking with God.” Brahmacharya does not just mean giving up sex; it also means to transmute the energy of sex into something else, principally, devotion to God.

Another approach is to use sexual energy, like all life energies, in accord with the practice of ahimsa. This means that we respect ourselves and our partner when we are in a sexual relationship and do not use others or have sex mindlessly. Remembering the divinity of self and other, we can allow sexuality to be part of the wider practice of yoga. So use your energy well! Don’t waste it in ways that are not beneficial or ways that may hurt others.

Number 5 non possessiveness Aparigrapha this means without greed. Trying to practice nongreed is hard. As humans we love our things. And that’s the issue the love of the material object.

But it doesn’t stop at material objects, We may hunger after enlightenment, difficult asanas, spiritual powers, or perfect bliss. One way to sidestep the trap of greed is to follow the advice of the sages: Be happy with what you have.

If we try this by choosing one yama to focus on for a length of time. Then reflect upon how this practice has affected your life. Don’t worry if you forget to practice your yama, or even if you can’t follow through in each situation. Your effort and awareness will be the victory.

These are our Yamas, they represent our ethics and the world outside of us. Pick one and focus on it for a week. Really think about how that Yama pertains to you.

We will start the Niyamas tomorrow!

Namaste

Next Level!

So I turned in my final project to my Yoga teacher. It all seems surreal I’m a yoga instructor! I am so ready to start creating sequences for people, and opening their hearts and minds to yoga beyond the physical aspect of it.

Long ago in another life, I had a few dreams. Those dreams involved meditation, yoga, holistic living and just inner peace. I was a whole different person just a few short 12 years ago.

I am getting back to the person I was supposed to be all along. In life it’s easy to get derailed from living your passion or your dreams. Sometimes thinking we have to keep up with the Jones’s or other family members has us make choices we otherwise wouldn’t make for ourselves.

The yoga philosophy during my teacher training brought back the memories of who I was and what I wanted. Embarking upon the future from a forgotten past is the most uplifting feeling I have had in many years. I look forward to sharing the new, old me with many friends past, present and future.

Namaste

Yamas and Niyamas

The five yamas ask practitioners to avoid violence, lying, stealing, wasting energy, and possessiveness, while the five niyamas ask us to embrace cleanliness and contentment, to purify ourselves through heat, to continually study and observe our habits, and to surrender to something greater than ourselves.

While these seem like no brainers, they are actually quiet difficult. Ahisma is the first Yama meaning to not commit violence. That even includes negative self talk. You are committing violence against yourself.

Lying is the second Yama. It’s quiet hard as well. It not just about big lies, even the little ones. Lying to yourself, lying to your friend to not hurt her feelings.

Stealing is our 3rd one. You would think something as basic as not taking something that doesn’t belong to you is self explanatory, but what about stealing time from ourselves, not taking the time to take care of yourself.

We will dicuss the last 2 yamas tomorrow.

Meditation!

So everyone tells me how hard it is for them to meditate. They say they just can’t quiet the mind or be still. Well that’s ok. Meditation is something that takes practice, you don’t just jump into being all zen and sitting in lotus position for hours on end just having a blank brain!

Just start with 2 minutes! Let your mind wander, let any thoughts that come to stay. Ponder on why that particular thought came to you. Maybe there is a reason it popped into your mind.

Increase your minutes every other day or less. Try using a guided meditation, start out with one of the 3 minute guided meditations on YouTube.

Meditation is truly a huge benefit, it allows you to reflect, become introspective and really get to the core of who you really are.

Now stop reading this and go try a quick guided mediation!

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