Sunday, October 30, 2011

What do I Want to Create Here?

"We live to be the Creators and to be the Enjoyers of happiness, good health, beauty and love."

What happens to us when we are in conflict? What is happening to us when we are thinking about seeking revenge? What is happening when we are sad and dwelling on a negative thought?

Our mind is causing us suffering.

Yoga is not just a practice of physical poses.  That is a small fraction of it.  It has nothing to do with flexibility.  In fact, most people who are too flexible end up with injuries because of hyper-extension of joints.  It is a daily, monthly and lifelong journey.  Coming on to our mats is just a reminder to cultivate not only the strength of our bodies, but to also cultivate our minds and our hearts.  How do we do that?

Have you ever had a bad day and when someone comes to ask you how you're doing, you just tell them to go away so you can be alone with your thoughts? ooooooh, this is dangerous!  Think about what you're doing.  You are allowing your negative thoughts to grow.  Instead, to create a positive way of thinking, all you have to do is come to your mat.  Watch your breath.  Concentrate on the breath going in.....and going out.  Are you still in your head? Try some movement with your breath.  Get on your hands and knees.  Breathe in and reach your head and chest up towards the sky and point your butt up in the opposite direction.  Cow pose.  Breathe out and do the opposite - arch your back, pushing your hands into the ground.  Cat pose.  Do this 10 times.  Voila.  You just created some space in your mind.

Asanas, or postures, came about - so the story goes - after cave-dwelling monks who sat and meditated for hours and days on end started getting numb asses.  They started observing animals and how they move after getting up from rest and realized that they could still breathe and watch their breath but with movement.  But the point was still to watch the breath, clear the mind, connect the individual with the universal.

What do you want to create?  If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, do you want to keep that awful feeling and take it with you throughout the day?  If your co-worker is being a debbie-downer on a Monday morning, are you going to let that bother your day?  We are the creators of our own happiness.  And guess what? We get to enjoy that happiness!  When we are unified with the rest of the universe, we get to enjoy good health! When we open our hearts we get to see the beauty in everything and we get to experience more love in ourselves, in others, and in all that surrounds us.

Create your own happiness.  Be open to change.  Open yourselves to grace...on and off the mat.

Namaste :)

Thanks Marc and Nikki!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fall Vinyasa Flow Retreat - Keeping your practice with you

I went on a run in the rain yesterday in my little town and stopped when I heard rushing water falling over a dam.  I went over to the bridge and looked down...then closed my eyes. 

The beauty about yoga practice and meditation in general is that the more you practice, the more you carry it with you.  I was just fortunate enough to spend the weekend in Bartlett, NH with 13 beautiful women at Becky LeHoullier's Fall Vinyasa Flow Yoga Retreat.  A hike was planned by Jilly Sorrentino to the gorgeous waterfall pictured above, a discussion on Finding your Voice was lead by Yours Truly, vegetarian meals were cooked with love, a surprise "Yogi Yankee Swap" was planneed by Becky's mom, Jacky and of course Becky's flowing and flawless classes were the foundation of the trip. 
Work was forgotten about. Families were left at home (although we love and missed you!) Routine weekend obligations were put on the shelf to find a little space for "me".  Selfish? Read on.
During the "Finding your Voice" talk, people shared their experiences and stories of how they may have "radically expressed" themselves this year, or expressed themselves just a little more assertively than they may have in the past.  One woman mentioned that she had always been a controlling mother and it was the first summer she had learned to let go, take time off, and felt good about just having "me" time.  This trip was a reminder that it's okay to stop and find time to reset, rejuvenate and breathe. 

As I stood on that bridge yesterday with running water below my feet and rain falling all around me, I breathed deep.  I felt as if I was back at the falls in the mountains, thought about the conversations I had with new friends, the comaraderie that was developed, the trust that was born.  And I carried that feeling throughout the rest of my run.

In my personal yoga practice this morning, I found myself waking up thinking about the busy day ahead of me.  Instead of rushing to get ready or finding clothes to wear, I sat at the end of my bed, put a pillow behind my back and breathed into my mantra for 20 minutes.  Then I had a gorgeous 1/2 hour yoga practice.  When a thought came up, it was related to a new asana I had learned in Becky's class; it was a more focused thought on how my knee should be aligned over my ankle in this pose; it was remembering that in this space there should be a breath...instead of a thought. 
Retreats like this come and go.  But the healing that happened to our our minds....even though we may not have realized we needed it - will last.  Maybe it will last a week. Maybe it will last just a day.  But I know I can go right to my mat tomorrow morning and do it all again.  It's always there for us.