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!

Final Yoga Project!

So last night I did my final project for yoga teacher training. I sequenced out a New Moon themed gentle yoga flow. We had some hip openers for feminity, some balance, lower back, and heart openers!

The theme of a New Moon is a wonderful time for self-reflection, relaxation, and enlightenment. It’s the perfect time to set new intentions, new goals, and prepare for new beginnings. During this lunar phase, take time for yourself and reconnect with your yoga practice and your deepest desires. Consciously bring your awareness inward and honor the changes occurring in your life.

So I had us all set an intention to think about and work on for the next 30 days of the lunar cycle. Here is how we did it through meditation, each person did this silently.

Set an Intention

Take a few breaths to set an intention for your practice. This can be a single word, a mantra, or perhaps sending the energy of your practice out to someone else. The purpose of this intention is to maintain focus throughout the flow, coming back to this intention as many times as needed during your practice.

I started my intention setting with an affirmation “I am body, breath, and wonderful exactly the way that I am” I then set my main intention on improving my personal yoga practice as well as my future professional yoga practice.

Each student was given around 5 minutes to set their intention. I asked that during the yoga flow they mentally would come back to their intention for a moment.

The energy from this flow was so beautiful, I’m positive the seeds I have planted for the next 30 days will be lovingly cultivated.

Now, I just have to turn in all my required work and I will be a certified yoga instructor. I appreciate everyone’s help during my journey. Photo creds to Angelina for letting #RatSkeleton attend and help us with downward dog, rat style!

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