The Practice of Being Content

cropped-Santosa-lila
Quieting the mind. It’s hard to do. We can close our eyes, roll our necks around, bring it back to center...and then, we breathe.

But, there it goes again--our mind wants to be busy. It flashes to what we need to do later, a conversation we had a week ago...it jumps around. A lot.

When I first started meditating, I used a crutch. I counted, in order to keep my mind from wandering. Inhale-one, exhale-two, inhale-three, exhale-four, inhale-five...and then, suddenly my mind would jump. Then I’d bring it back to one. You see, once you bring your mind back...start over at one. It helps to alleviate the ‘contest’---by starting over at one every time you slip into thought and not going past nine each time you successfully reach it before you start at one, again. Just breathe, and count. It’s a crutch, but, we do that. It’s okay. You don’t lose points for using a crutch when you need a crutch. When we need support, we use that crutch. It’s ok. Know that it’s something you will ween yourself from. It’s something to help train the mind and when you notice the mind jumping...bring it back. Bring. It. Back. When we first start sitting, it can be overwhelming to suddenly realize how much the mind jumps around. But after awhile, you discover that you’re just feeling your breath. The counting becomes unnecessary, and we get to put down the crutch. We don’t need it. The mind has become stronger. We can find peace. We can find contentment.

In Yoga, we pay attention to the breath. It’s the glue, really. The yoga sutras written by Patanjali, the first person to write about yoga, are described as an eight limbed path outlining the art and science of Yoga. It is “a process of systematically encountering, examining, and transcending each of the various gross and subtle levels of false identity in the mind field, until the jewel of the true Self comes shining through”.

Sounds pretty important when one puts it that way, yes? When we look at it simplistically, it’s listed as an eight limbed set of awareness to evolve with;

YAMA - Restraints, moral disciplines or moral vows.
NIYAMA - Positive duties or observances.
ASANA - Posture. (This is where we Westerners like to dwell...we loooooove asana.)
PRANAYAMA - Breathing techniques.
PRATYAHARA - Sense withdrawal.
DHARANA - Focused concentration.
DHYANA - Meditative absorption.
SAMADHI - Bliss or enlightenment.

The second limb, the Niyamas, are personal practices, rituals and daily activities for wellbeing and spiritual growth. First, there is Soucha, which is the practice of cleanliness--or the commitment to keeping the mind and body clean. It’s about looking at environmental toxins and opting to remove them from our lives. It’s about being aware that cleanliness is more than washing your hands after you use the bathroom. It’s about your mind, too. It’s about what you are thinking. There is Tapas-- the practice of self discipline, and Svadhyaya--the practice of self study. There’s Ishvara Pranidhana which refers to surrendering to the Divine--quite literally, “the divine in me honors the divine in you”. Finally Santosha--meaning contentment. It is this Niyama that I’d like to focus on. This time of year, there is a lot of talk about gratitude. We’re thankful for our family, our pets, our homes. We’re thankful that mom is a great cook and we get to gather between halftime to devour the magic she conjured for us...so very thankful that we’re all together, safe, sound, with a second helping of too-much-already. But, there is more to Santosha than our American perspective of gratitude for abundance. Santosha refers to surrendering the control of our lives in the present moment, and going with the flow.

Santosha doesn’t assume abundance.

When we live our lives this way, we’re much more receptive to opportunities and experiences that present themselves when we keep an open mind. The result of practicing Santosha is experiencing increased love and joy in our own lives. When we’re happy and carefree, we can be of even greater service to others, and positively impact more lives around us. We can
be...better humans, no matter what we have...or don’t have.

When we’re not practicing Santosha, we tend to be discontent and hold onto resentment towards others and toward our situations. When we decide to practice Santosha we surrender to all circumstances-good and bad- that have brought us to any given moment, the result is often a deeper sense of gratitude for the respective paths we’re on. It means that when the weather is “bad”, we breathe. We find pause. We fill ourselves with contentment in the weather, no matter its “badness”.

It’s a struggle in the West to be content. American’s love choices. We don’t just want something to eat to address our hunger. We want the perfect burger. We could get a burger at at least 45 different burger places right here in Missoula. But...really...come on...it’s a cheeseburger. We have too many choices. All these choices confuse us, and then, even when we make a choice, we focus on what we didn’t get to choose. It was a good burger, but, maybe we should have gone to The Top Hat. Maybe it would have been better. It probably would have been. Unless it wasn’t. Because, maybe, it really wasn’t. Damn. Should have made a different choice. We buy a new car, and we find exactly what isn’t perfect about it as soon as we’ve signed the papers. It’s missing something that we could now focus on. Needs a hitch. A rack. Heated seats. Don’t get me wrong. Heated seats are pretty nice. Especially in Montana. Especially after yoga. But...is it worth being unhappy about if you don’t have them? Or, maybe,
you got a new job and are super excited, but...three weeks in...are wishing for the old job, or for a new, new job. This job...you’re not so sure about. And your partner? Well...is he/she really the best option? When you’re listening to them chew, are you wondering if someone else can chew their food in a less annoying way? Can you? Maybe the act of chewing food is just...chewing food. Maybe, it’s time to practice Santosha.

In Santosa, the practice of being content, you find the breath. You find the peace, but there is a fine line wherein you can also find yourself in complacency. You want to find contentment, not complacency. Complacency is giving up. Contentment is finding peace. Tease out the difference. The weather isn’t great. It’s cold. COLD. We Missoulians know cold. But, you know what...we usually have beautiful weather. Even when it’s cold out, it’s really...beautiful. We can work with the cold, knowing it is part of the dynamic whollistic reality of where we live. Our burger filled us up. It was tasty. It did its job. It fed us. Our job, it gives us a paycheck. Its reliable. It’s what we are doing. Maybe it’s a step into the future, but right now, it’s where we are. It’s what we are breathing through, what we are asked to be content in, for our own sake, and the for the sake of those who ears we borrow.

And there it is...the breath. The breath is what we are practicing in the studio, so that when we go out there, we can find contentment in our lives.

Can you find that contentment in pigeon? In Warrior two? Triangle? Can you find your breath in headstand? Can you find that same breath at home when your kids are going ape because you didn’t make the burger the way they like it? Can you teach them about Santosha, too? In this season of bundling up, Look to see where you can find the gratitude...find the places you can choose gratitude. They are there, and they will direct you toward contentment. This time of the year, we can lose track of contentment in favor of stress. But, remember, whatever holiday you align with, ‘Tis the season to be content with where you are, right now. Breathe.

Namaste’

Worry, It's a Thing

ayzp0gvl4ehx
Worry. It’s kind of a thing. There’s actually a lot of energy that goes into the practice of worrying about our problems. Some of us have real problems. Big problems. Problems that keep us up at night with deep seated, sincere, understandable angst. There are also a lot of people who don’t have problems to that extreme...and they still worry. But, what is worry? What does it accomplish? When we worry, part of that initial process can be productive if we are figuring out ways to solve whatever it is that is causing us distress--but that’s the part beyond the worry. The problem solving part. The worry...well, that’s not helping anything. That part is just in your head. It doesn’t make anything better. It doesn’t matter if the issue is big or small.The worry part is just spinning wheels in your head. It does nothing beyond pushing fear and negativity into the universe. And, it hurts. It literally damages your cells. If you can solve the problem, then do it, and don’t worry.

If there is nothing you can do to solve the problem, then...let it go...and don’t worry. Easier said than done, yes?

The struggle comes in when we can’t do anything about a problem. It’s so hard to feel helpless. I had a teacher, Judith Hanson Lasater, in a workshop who said that worrying was praying for the bad stuff to happen.

Sometimes statements like that feel like blame, but there’s some truth to be found in it. Have you ever manifested something into your life by focusing positive energy into it? Pouring yourself into something you care about, perhaps you found that you were rewarded with positive results? All that positive energy lifted you into what you envisioned and when that happens, most of us are more than happy to take credit for that good outcome. We know we manifested it. It’s ours, and we feel good about that success. It happens in the other direction too. Pouring negative energy into things also manifests outcomes. Fear is a powerful form of energy, right? Enough worry and fear, and you can find your immune system completely zapped from the internal stress of your mind in its hamster wheel of concerns.

Here’s a little story-zample... I was talking with my co-worker a while ago, and he was telling me about how he was zipping along on his motorcycle and a bee hit his hand and it stung him and it hurt! I immediately cringed inside and thought, “Oh man! You know what would really suck? What if you were riding along and a bee flew into your mouth!” The thought made me cringe. The idea of a bee stinging me in the mouth was just..nooononono! Within a week...I was riding
my bike and NO JOKE, a bee flew into my mouth a stung me. Trust me. You do not want to manifest that for yourself. I worried about something I didn’t need to worry about. Don’t do that. It’s not a good idea. Don’t bring unnecessary pain and strife into your life by worrying about things you can’t control.

When we ask ourselves if there is something we can do about our problem, if the answer is yes, when we have our path. If the answer is no...then, we have our breath. When we can acknowledge that we really don’t need to worry, that’s when we can find peace. That’s when we can move forward into manifesting what we want in our lives.

That is why we come to our mats. We come here to get out of our heads. We come into our breath to leave the spinning of our minds behind. We come...to let go.

This Autumn, we have some awesome things coming up to help you do that. We have a great beginner yoga class at the end of October that promises to give you everything you need to feel confidence in any regular class, and I’m planning a fun little workshop in Novemember! You can also play along with a little game I like to encourage; I’m excited to offer a challenge to everyone to find out how little you can pay for your yoga classes. Unlimited passes make that possible at the luxurious steal of only $85, and only $50 if you are new to the studio. The more you come, the less you end up paying!

Can you stretch your dollar far enough to pay $1 a class? Can you imagine how awesome it would feel to walk through that door every day and release your mind from the worry you were holding? What if you came often enough that you simply...forgot to worry ever again. What if you were so busy enjoying yoga every day that you found at the end of 30 days that you had replaced worry with inner peace? That’s what yoga can do. I believe in this practice, and this challenge is my gift to you as a thank you for being part of Inner Harmony. We also have some acro classes on Monday nights at 7:15 and an acto jam on Saturday afternoons which are accessible to anyone who wishes their secret power was the ability to fly! While actual flying may be out of reach, the thrill of doing acro is sure to bring a smile to your face while you strengthen, tone and tighten your entire body. It’s the most fun ever and you get STRONG. Join us!

We just finished an enthusiastic Autumnal Equinox celebration with 108 Sun Salutations. We had a hearty group which made the energy in the room expansive! Afterwards, several of us enjoyed brunch at Scotty’s table for a well earned indulgence and comradely conversation. We do this practice quarterly at Inner Harmony, and the next one will be in December for Winter Solstice. I hope to share this expansive event with you. If you’ve ever wondered if you had the endurance to accomplish the 108, I urge you to take it upon yourself to manifest it. Start with five sun salutations a day, which is something that has no negatives when adding to a home practice, or, make your way to the studio and I promise we’ll help you achieve that goal. I promise you can do it!

Again, thank you all for making Inner Harmony possible. Being able to do what I love is a dream come true, and I am so grateful for that. It’s so much better to guide people into getting out of their heads than it is to have a bee fly into your mouth because you worried about it happening. Trust me. I know what I’m talking about.

I appreciate all of you Happy

Advanced Yoga

It’s summer. It’s hot. We’re more active. Sweating more. Are you feeling dehydrated? Muscles get angry when we neglect hydration...so, make sure you are compensating for the heat. Drink water. Lots. of. Water.
sweat-how-to-clean-a-yoga-mat

I have a little magic trick I’ve been sharing in class in order to beat the heat. Tongue straw. It looks really funny, but, see if you can do it, anyway. Curl up your tongue so it looks like a straw and then slowly inhale air up through the tongue in order to cool the body. Exhale through the nose. Do it several times and notice that, while It looks silly, it effectively cools your body. So, anytime in class, or while exerting yourself in this summer weather, or if it’s just peaking into the 100’s and your in survival mode, whenever you feel yourself getting too hot, transition the inhale from normal nostril breathing into the tongue straw inhale. It works...I promise.

Busy minds. It’s so easy to carry our troubles around with us instead of just allowing ourselves to be in the space we are in. Letting go of work, frustrations, worries...it’s hard to do. I like the story of the two monks walking down the street. As they walked, they came upon a woman who needed to cross the gutter and she was troubled because couldn’t get over it without soiling herself badly. The monks were going in the same direction as the woman, so the elder monk lifted her up onto his shoulder, and put her on the other side, and quietly went on his way without a word. This action pissed the younger monk off. He believed that the vows he had taken as a monk were sacred and absolutely not to be broken. After about 20 minutes, the younger monk finally lost his temper over having witnessed blatant rule breaking and went off on the other monk, his cheeks red with anger, “You know, I can’t believe you broke your vow! One of our vows is to never touch a woman and you touched her, You actually picked her up, and held her to get her over the ditch...and she didn’t even thank you! I can’t believe you would do that after making a solemn vow that you would never touch a woman!” The young monk went on and on his face getting redder with the anger he felt at his elder’s betrayal of one of his most precious vows to the brotherhood. The older monk quietly looked at the younger monk, smiled and said, “You know...I sat her down about 30 minutes ago...You are still holding her.”

How long ago do you clock out, and then continue to carry it long past when you were at work? How long do you carry a resentment, an irritation, an interpretation? You can hold it. You can hold it as long as you like. Forever if you must. Or you can...just let go. It doesn’t matter. It’s not happening right now. Right now, is...now.

Yoga is a practice, but it’s not just a practice of headstands and arm balances. It’s not simply about getting better at triangle. In a way, the asana is a way to trick the mind. What we are actually practicing is getting OUT of our heads and into our bodies. I’ve never considered a person who has the most perfect hand stand, or the most instagram worthy triangle pose to be doing “advanced” yoga. Advanced yoga is being at​ your level--not caring if the person next to you is doing something else. The simplest, most basic version of the pose, as long as you are
present and breathing in the moment at the place you are actually at...well, that is advanced yoga.

I consider seeing child’s pose in my yoga classes to be one of the most advanced poses, because of how hard it is for people to let go of wanting to prove that they can go deeper, harder. People like to prove they can do it. And, while we want to be honest with what we need, (because sometimes child’s pose is taken out of reluctance to push forward--we have to ask ourselves where we really are at. Do we need child’s pose? That’s advanced, then, to take it.

Do we want child’s pose because we don’t want to do another plank because...it’s hard...well...how about you go ahead and work your way into plank. And breathe. And...smile. That’s advanced yoga, too. Being at your level, where you are, right now.) On the other hand, ongoing child’s pose at home might be considered the worst pose to indulge in...it’s just too easy to spend 45 minutes in child’s pose at home, and checking off an hour long yoga practice with just child’s is not really having a yoga practice. It’s resting. Resting is valuable. We all need to rest. But, do pay attention to the tendency to just want to hang out there. Too much time in child’s pose doesn’t give us everything we really need when we are practicing filling up our bodies. Being where we really are; That’s advanced yoga. We’re getting out of our heads and back into our bodies. Lifting our hearts. Finding the space to discover what it is we are grateful for, today.

Namaste.

Transfomation Within Manipura Chakra

manipura chakra
Warmth is filling the air, drawing us outside and bringing heat to our muscles. It makes us want to move. To feel. We rush from one moment to the next, invigorated by the warmth and the sunshine calling to us. In that energy, just ahead of our next step, is the all pervasive tendency to “turtle neck.” It helps us get where we are going just a little bit faster, right? Maybe, if we push forward just enough, we can get ahead, and out into that sun a little more quickly.

Except, that isn’t how it ends up working. The turtle necking rounds our thoracic spine from what I call the, “hunchin’ ligament”, because it pulls us in and forward, like a hunchback. If the hunchin’ ligament gets tight, it envelopes and effectively weakens the third chakra, Manipura. Manipura Chakra is located above the navel in the area of the solar plexus, just below the breastbone. It’s the golden flame behind our personal power and self esteem. It’s the energy in our digestion. It’s our confidence. When the third chakra is diminished by the effects of turtle necking and the resulting hunching, we lose the expansion required for transformation. We feel weak, and
anxious-- and so we protect and round more when we allow the head to lead, instead of the
heart.

That’s why it is important for us to live Yoga.

Yoga introduces us to the deliciousness of counter posture. It calls us to focus on core activation. It reminds us to be gentle, yet attentive to where we need to go further. Deeper.. It requests strength of us. It calls us to pay attention to our balance, our minds...and our turtlenecks. Yoga asks us to lead with the heart, which is incredibly vulnerable, and that is why it makes us stronger, physically and emotionally. To bear your heart, your belly, can bring up all kinds of feelings because we are opening what we have been protecting from harm. It’s not uncommon to feel dizzy or anxious or even tearful when you practice opening and lifting Manipura--but it’s the key to countering the fatigue of turtlenecking and hunching. Paying attention to expansion is such a simple way to bring energy into your body... Inhaling, bringing as much width as we can to expand the chest, we expand and relax. We find stillness. We find that our stillness...is safe. The anxiety begins to release us from our mind.

And, we breathe.

And we listen to where we need more or less, on the mat--and in our lives.

Once, several years ago, I had a student who asked me, “Brian, why is it that Yoga makes me feel like divorcing my husband?” What a question! At the time, I really wasn’t sure how what to say to her. I didn’t have an answer for her. But, after years of teaching, I’ve started to notice answers to that question, because it’s not as unique or strange as it sounded to me at first. Yoga opens what has been closed. Yoga changes how we hold ourselves, even if only during class. Even if you run through the day in pure turtlenecked fashion, when you sit on your mat, you roll those shoulders back, you lift your heart, and you expand. You breathe. You quiet the
mind.

That sixty minutes of becoming a more open you is transformative. It changes your body. It changes your mind. You start to notice when you are hunched over even when you aren’t in class and you crave expansion; so, you find yourself allowing the shoulders roll, and the heart opens and lifts, and you breathe with intention. As we find ourselves opening up, we might also find that we want the people we are closest to to notice the change we are manifesting on our mats and in our lives, and honor it, maybe even take the time to transform alongside us. But, we can’t control that part. We can only honor what is ours to work with. Our shoulders. Our jaw. Our breath. And, maybe the most advanced of all, our smile.

As we bring energy into our Chakras, as they open and expand and as we become more who we are being shown to be, we are also noticing what, or who, causes us to retract into ourselves. We notice how we really feel. As a new aspect of self awareness, those feelings can be disconcerting, as they were to my student who found herself feeling disconnected from her partner. It can change things when we weren’t asking for change in that particular area.

One often enters a yoga class looking for physical or emotional change or pain relief, usually not to alter their entire psyche. Yet, with a regular practice, all of those things do transform. That can play out in many different kinds of change and it will sometimes mean that you may need to make changes that allow you to continue to expand, because you won’t be able to pretend that what was good enough when you were hunched over, protecting the heart, will be good enough now that your heart knows what it feels like to press open, in vulnerability and strength, to face the sunlight. And, that’s a good thing for you, and for the people who care about you.

I’m excited to continue to offer Missoula with opportunities to expand at Inner Harmony with regular classes, acro, massage and some really fun workshops that are coming up! We have an acro workshop series going on with a nice sized group! You don’t need a partner, but I’m offering a reduced rate when two people sign up together. We’ll do 20 minutes of strength building conditioning and then you can expect to learn all the basics you would need to attend regular classes and jams! The more the merrier! I’m excited to see you there!

On June 24th, we’ll be celebrating Summer Solstice with our energizing quarterly practice of 108 Sun Salutations. There is absolutely no reason to omit yourself from this event. Add five daily sun salutations to your life and this practice will be entirely doable and promises to be empowering and a great way to honor the extra energy of the season.

On July 13th, from 7-9pm which happens to also be my 40-onederfulest birthday, I’m hosting an amazing Sound Bath Journey with Crown of Eternity that will absolutely sell out. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 the day of the show. Please bring a pillow or blanket to sit on and prepare to be delighted.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to grow as a teacher and for being willing to open your heart on this yoga journey.

Namaste

Yoga Every Day

It’s been a predictable Spring in Montana in that we’ve literally had a little of everything in the air! Sunshine, snow, flurries, rain, solid downpours, wind and then, more sunshine. The constant fluctuation in our mountain weather keeps us on our toes! Clearly though, the days are getting longer and brighter, and it’s exciting to feel that the icy/frigid days of winter are on their way out, making way for rambling hikes amongst hills that will soon be bursting with wildflowers (Though as seasoned Montanans we know better than to start planting our gardens just yet, right?). At IHY, we celebrated the season of new beginnings with 108 Sun Salutations, for
the Vernal Equinox. We had a generous group of regular Sun Saluters, along with several courageous new adventurers who discovered that, while hamstrings do require some love in the days after, the 108 is entirely doable and inspirational! It makes you feel strong! I hope you’ll join us next time for our quarterly 108, during the Summer Solstice (June 24th, 10am-12:15ish); and if the rapid beginning of the year is any indication of the months to follow, the next 108 is right around the corner! (even though you absolutely have time to implement half a dozen or so Sun Salutes to your daily practice to make the task of manifesting 108 Sun Salutations ever more awesomer...)

washing-dishes
I mention a daily practice as a segway into this blog post, because, that is what I want to talk about. A daily practice. Yoga, as something we do--not only when we move from Forward Fold to Standing Split, or from Warrior Two to Triangle, but even when we move from our mat into our regular lives.

Yoga when we do the dishes.

Yoga when taking out the garbage.

Yoga when we munch a carrot.

Yoga when we notice that the sunshine has been replaced by a snow shower. Again.

Yoga...in every moment.

How do we do this? How do we take the tremendous peace and sense of well being that we gather during Asana, into the moments beyond the mat?

Well, it’s not really such a mystery. It’s not out of reach. It’s entirely doable.

It simply requires practice.

That’s why we come to our mats. To practice. As tempting as it can be to reduce yoga to what it can do for the body, there is so much more it has to offer, beyond that undeniable perk. Studies are springing forth right and left to sing the praises that yoga can offer in the areas of chronic pain, anxiety disorders, mood disorders like depression and as a significant player in supporting the effects of PTSD. Mental health professionals, Alternative health practitioners (Chiropractors, Naturopaths, Massage Therapists, Yoga Therapists, etc...) and allopathic
practitioners of medicine (Doctors, Psychiatrists, Physical Therapists, Osteopaths, NP’s, etc) are beginning to recommend a regular practice of Yoga to their clients because the pharmaceutical options for lifting mood have numerous unpleasant side effects and inadequate efficacy in too many cases to be ignored. Yoga addresses the internal as well as the external, and, frankly, it’s less expensive than prescriptions that are showing about as much efficacy as a placebo can boast, while offering a powerful boost to the effectiveness of evidence based behavioral therapy techniques. Time and time again, the direction to internal and external health is pointing toward yoga as an answer, both collaboratively and singularly. Not only will it shape and tone and increase balance and flexibility, but it teaches your mind to be still.​ It allows you to practice the stability of breath. It prepares you for the moments beyond the mat.

Moving through Asana, we practice for the big game of life. It’s no different that anyone practicing basketball. You shoot, and you shoot and you miss and you miss and you shoot again and again and again, and after awhile, you start to see that your accuracy is improving. The distance you can run is further. Your mark is sharper. Your endurance more fluid. It’s no different in yoga. It takes practice. Lots of it. Not only is the practice enhancing your endurance physically, but it is transforming the mind...the soul. The practice only requires that you make your way to the mat and find stability of breath in the pose. It’s beautifully simple and only needs to be done with regularity in order to be able to access it when the phone rings in perfect timing with life hitting the fan. Because, it does. It does for all of us.

As we reach for stability and peace within our breath when we press into pigeon or lift our hearts in our backbends, we are practicing finding breath in difficult moments (It really is difficult to find breath in backbend, isn’t it?) It isn’t beyond our grasp, but without the practice required, when presented with car troubles and children and families and demands on our time---like in those moments alongside Bob from Accounting...Good ol’ Bob, who is not very self aware, nor intending to irritate, but who is trying to quit smoking by instilling a new habit of smacking gum relentlessly--All. Day. Long.​ Well, that is one of those moments found in the Big Game we are training for, while allowing Camel to come into fruition. Life...is The Ultimate Big Game.

When we are on our mats we move into and through our Asana, this commitment to the space is where we press back into pigeon, and lift into our backbends, and melt toward the earth in our Forward Folds. We practice the task of mindful breath in the poses and we reach deep in order to challenge the self into finding breath in a more complex bind. We do the yogic task of Asana, so that when we roll up our mats, say “Namaste’”, and head out of the studio, we can actually handle the moments wherein we have to truly look in the mirror and really see ourselves from the inside out--Because that’s another place where stuff comes up. Emotions come up.
Doubts. Fears. It’s moments of dealing with others and of dealing with the face we hide from others. Because of the desire and absolute necessity to bring yoga off the mat, we practice on our mats-- and the more comfortable and confident we are in our body and mind, the easier this yoga is to take it into our lives. We take the tools we learn and practice on our mat, and we then test ourselves as stress and problems and demands work their way into our lives. We breathe, bringing ourselves back to center. We use the tools we learn on our mat--how to deal with the constant attention to breath and balance--we practice those skills, right here. But then we live our lives out there. Our lives are messy and busy and complicated in the best and worst ways--the very reality of them can pull us off center. Away from our breath. Away...from our
yoga.

The thing is, It takes lots of yoga--But, it’s not beyond any of us to practice every day. When I step on my mat, my goal isn’t to get better at yoga as much as it is to be a better...human. A better father. I’m working toward being a better sibling and son. A better friend. A better teacher. I think of my time on the yoga mat as an athlete would at practice in order to manifest his or her best. To win the game, they shoot hoop after hoop, just trying to make a basket, they swim lap after lap, they leap and dodge and bolt and train. It’s only with practice that we get better. In the real game, it’s way more difficult to make a basket. There are other players coming at us. It’s no different from Yoga as it melds into Life. This is where we practice. This is where we learn how to get on top of the game. This...is where we start.

So when that gum smacking in the cubicle next door begins, how do you bring yourself back to your yoga, without whipping your mat out in the office, launching into a headstand to regain composure? We close the eyes. We find our intentional breath. We center the self. When we can do that, it frees us up to access a sense of humor, or at least a willingness to breathe, and to get ahold of our focus toward acceptance about the challenges life presents as it asks you to find your yoga in adverse situations.

So, Thank you for sharing this practice with me and with all the dedicated teachers in your life. Remember, your child may be your teacher if you are directed to the breath when a sudden need (“Dad, I can’t find x,y,z...&rdquoWinking is placed in front of you just as you put your feet up. Bob from accounting can be your teacher as you practice not losing your composure as the smack, smack, smack pounds like a drum in your ears (because, remember, Bob is just doing his thing. He’s not chewing gum to annoy you It’s not about you. The only part that has anything to do with you is how you choose to respond.) In every moment, you may be presented with a teacher. That’s why... Yoga, in every moment. Practicing every day, that your yoga, your breath, can serve you, better.

In order to help facilitate extra opportunities to go deep, IHY is happy to welcome Sadie to our studio! Sadie is a local NP and a certified yogini who is excited to offer a soothing restorative yoga class starting in April, on Wednesday evenings, at 7:00 just after our regular 5:30 vinyasa flow. I hope you will take advantage of this enriching yoga opportunity where you are sure to enjoy melting further into the breath.

Namaste

© 2012 Inner Harmony Yoga Contact Us