Transformation - the act, process, or instance of being changed - is one of those "big" words in yoga. We tend to associate it with lifechanging shifts and inner fireworks. And, certainly, all this is possible, even probable, as we go deeper.
Yet, it's equally as important to recognize that yoga also transforms our lives in small, but not less important ways. Helping our wrists and shoulders recover from extensive typing or knitting, the awareness of our breath as a way to release the emotional residue of an upsetting conversation, meditation as a practice of centering and grounding ourselves, and on and on. Little by little, these everyday shifts add up to a new, more expanded way of being, both with ourselves and in the world.
The simple ways yoga transforms us can easily go unnoticed and unappreciated. By calling them out we get to see how efficiently yoga actually works as an engine of shift in our lives. In doing so, we also get to reclaim...
I think sometimes we forget that some of the most basic things we do in yoga are devotional in nature. Meaning, they are designed to generate feelings of love.
Take, for example, Anjali mudra, sometimes called hands to heart, or Namaskar mudra.
The Sanskrit word mudra means seal. Mudras are kind of like “Hand yoga.” They are gestures or hand positions that leave an imprint on our psyche, like a wax seal.
Because it’s so commonly practiced, it’s easy to forget that Anjali mudra is a gesture of honor, reverence, and loving connection. We can direct it toward others, as in greeting someone with Namaste or Namaskar. But we can also direct the energy of Anjali mudra toward ourselves. In this way, it becomes a simple practice of self-honoring.
One of the marks of a seasoned yogi is the ability to find freshness, relevance, and meaning in even the most common gestures,...
My morning is defined by a series of beeps. First, my alarm at 6am, then my timer at the end of meditation. Next, the kettle beeping when my water boils. Finally, there's the beep letting my husband know his tea has been steeped to perfection.
I trust these sounds every day. And, every day they happen, almost without fail, creating the faithful rhythm of my morning routine (which, by the way, is really worth creating if you don't have one.)
Beyond the beeps we rely on, there are so many other things we place our trust in every day. Just looking out my window, I see our recycling bin on the road. I trust it will be emptied because that's what happens every other Wednesday. It's snowing, and I trust the plows will be making their way down our road soon, because they always do. To say nothing of the faith I have that the sun will rise, that my daughter will wake from her bed, and on and on. Daily life is defined by the trust we have in so many things.
And, so it is in yoga....
The sun started rising during my morning practices today. First, there was a dim light. Then, a gorgeous soft peach that filled the sky. Now, it's a muted golden orb above the mountains.
It occured to me, the sun never says to the earth,
"Are you ready for me? Ready for another day?"
And the earth never says to the rising sun,
"Could you hold off for a little a while?"
Life is happening, whether we're ready or not.
Time relentlessly moves on, however we spend it.
Our relationship to time, therefore, is really about our relationship to our lives, isn't it?
Here are some questions to roll around in your mind today:
The cords of wood we got this year are really wet. You can see and hear the water burning off when we start our fire every morning. Today, our logs held a lesson for me.
This morning's meditation was not what I would call quiet. My mind flitted back and forth from the focal point of my mantra to one of several streams of thought it was decidedly more dedicated to than quieting down. It's okay. I KNOW it is STILL meditation even when my mind never quiets down. I KNOW it is STILL working.
Furthermore, and maybe most importantly, if 27 years of practice has taught me one thing it’s that struggling or trying to MAKE my mind quiet only works against me.
I'm guessing some of you *may* have experienced a similar quandary in meditation. Here's an understanding that might help:
In yoga, we see our ordinary mind, its limited concepts, habits and tendencies as the lived result of gathered up past impressions called samskaras in sanskrit. Through our practices, these...
In the La Presse article last weekend, I think Ève Dumas landed on several important qualities of my approach to yoga practice and teaching.
Slow, lasting, profound, are some of the adjectives she used to describe it,, and also the phrase “almost anachronistic,” which I admit I kind of loved.
I agree with all this.
The longer I teach, the more old school I feel. Maybe I’ll start to call my brand of yoga “retro yoga.” I’ve been looking for a catchy name.
Yesterday in our Power of YOU program, I gave a talk on reigniting passion for practice. The unglamorous work of continuing to show up.
If you’ve hung with me long enough, you’ve heard me talk about it over and over, how one of the most important skills we can master as students of yoga is to get good at beginning again, to welcoming ourselves as we are, to embracing the tapasya of practice and simply continue, even when we don’t quite feel like it or when it's...
The companion to my daily morning contemplation and journaling is...a big, strong cup of coffee with...get ready...a generous helping of half-and-half.
I'm grinning as I say this because I used to think I should hide this habit of drinking coffee from my students, I would feel it wasn't yogic or that I wasn't acting in integrity.
I remember once on a retreat one of my students came up to me at breakfast and accusingly said, "YOU drink coffee?" As if I should be ashamed of myself for such egregious non-yogic behavior.
For a while, I admit I played into it. I felt ashamed for treating my nervous system and digestion this way.
Truth be told, when I do a 3-week cleanse once or twice a year, I DO forego coffee in favor of the strongest green tea I can find.
And I always go back. My Kapha constitution responds well to it. I've stopped apologizing for it.
Recently, I read in an interview with the New York Times that Deepak Chopra himself drinks up to 5 cups of coffee per day if that makes...
Happy New Year 2020!
Usually at the beginning of a new year I LOVE to create my goals, intentions, and visions for the coming months.
Like many of us I’m sure, I’ve been working on these over the past few days.
But something feels a little different this year.
I haven’t felt as strongly about all this as I have in past years. Until yesterday I wasn’t quite able to put my finger on it.
Today it feels clear.
What about the unexpected? The surprises? The gifts? The opportunities not yet known? The mystery and the magic?
I want to leave space for all of this in my life. Yes, I have goals and intentions. I plan to do my best to work toward them.
But I’m also really wanting to be able to let go at the end of the day, to empty out, to rest, to attune to the space beneath and beyond my personal desires and effort.
I want this year to be less about micromanaging my reality and more about dancing with it day by day.
I want to stay open to see what else,...
"May you always know the truth and see the light surrounding you."
I couldn't have said it any better than Dylan (obviously), but this is the blessing in my heart for each of you, and all of those you hold dear.
Isn't it true, that in the end, only love is what will remain? No matter what our accomplishments, our failures, our gains, our losses, love is the essence of what makes life worth living. It's the underlying ground of our own being that will always be there to welcome us, to embrace us, to hold us. It brings sweetness to all the flavours and colours of our lives.
Love is the source of all the great virtues we can experience and share, kindness, generosity, patience, presence, acceptance, compassion, and all the rest. They are simply ways of expressing the great love that lives inside of us. Love is what softens our hard edges, Love is the key that turns pain into growth. Love is what connects us all.
May you experience this truth as you give and receive love this...
One of the steps toward turning the page and beginning the new year on the highest note possible is reflecting on the year that's passed.
This includes looking back on your blessings, your challenges, your accomplishments, and all the things that were not accomplished too.
Today, I invite you to turn the energy of peace we love to talk about at this time year inward, toward coming to terms with all that is left unfinished in your world, to make peace with all that remains unaccomplished and unresolved, all the works-in-progress that you will not see come to fruition in 2019. (Sure, we still have some time so don't limit yourself too much, but do be realistic.)
Reflecting back in this way allows us to release that which might burden us, to let go of that which we might be holding onto, and allow for a fresh, new start in the year ahead.
I invite you to consider:
What unresolved projects, or situations, or even relationships, are you ready to let go of in the coming year?
Our free, online bonus content is designed to complement and enrich your experience of Evolving Your Yoga. Resources like video pose tutorials, downloadable journaling prompts, breathwork, guided visualizations, and more will support your exploration of each of the Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice.