From yung pueblo:
when I am
Perhaps strong is only truly strong when it is also supple, contractile and elastic, solid and fluid at once... This week, sense for a strength and stability that is infused with breath, awareness, clarity and calm.
From yung pueblo:
when I am
For the next few weeks let's investigate how we might look at strength differently - our practice may be about developing the strength and the integrity of our physical body, but is not just about the physical body...
From imagine by yung pueblo: "strength? what do you mean by strength?" "what I mean is how firm is your inner peace, how honestly can you observe yourself without judgment, how limitless is your love for yourself and all beings, and how willing are you to change yourself for the better?"
Last week we put Light Pouring From Pens (2014) to bed. If the poetry we've been reading lately moved you, please support the editor HawaH and the amazing authors and buy a copy for you or someone you love.
Our new inspirations come from a gorgeous book I found recently entitled "inward" by a yung pueblo. Today's reading, like much of the book, is short, compassionate, to the point, and deeply evocative:
is when we
for taking so long
to treat our bodies
like a home
This week, be aware, without self-judgment, of any ways you've treated you body as other than a home to cherish and care for. Is there anything you feel you need to forgive your body for? And what might it need to forgive from you? Let your practice be the offering of amends and a new beginning...
Today's reading is short and evocative - an invitation to infuse our practice (on and off the mat) with love.
It's entitled Divine Signature (by Rama Devi in Light Pouring From Pens) and speaks for itself:
love dances inside
every single atom
Let your practice this week drop fixing, should, could...simply let it be a marination of body & mind in love
Let's continue with the theme of breath and presence, this week with some inspiration and bit of welcoming uncertainty adapted from Tias Little:
It is enough now, the blue blue sea and the whites of her eyes and cloud like sheets of glass on high.
I will take you there, where you have been, and already are, the place not of worship or want, or knowing but the simplicity of breath...like swells of the sea and the taste of spray on your tongue.
Enjoy your explorations!
For the next few weeks, we'll investigate a number of explorations unfolding from a poem by C Elizabeth Knapp (from Light Pouring from Pens). Her evocative work encapsulates many of the key messages of yoga: embodied presence, open senses, groundedness and stability (sthira) balanced with ease and space (sukha), listening, letting go, and connection with our inherent wholeness... Enjoy!
Just as I tell myself I've arrived...as I've breathed with mindful sensitivity into the placement of my feet, legs, hips, torso, neck, head, and arms...just as I become my pose, tasting perfection.... the tiniest, insistent urge to move visits.
Exploring, deeply in the center of continuous breath; inquiring, I inhale & lengthen, exhale & soften. I spread the toes of one foot farther apart, plant the heel of the other more solidly on the earth. Rooting through soles of feet, radiating from center, I engage & draw focus, discovering one place, one small place where I can let go - in that instant an invitation arises, I accept, & subtly shifting my hips... I am transformed! Space buoyancy & ease bloom from this cultivated ground.
Eyes closed, air caressing skin, senses heighten. Conscious of the Grace that flows here, in this moment.
I am Whole.
While it is important to have some consistency to our practice, yoga might also be considered more an undertaking of intention setting, deep engagement, and surrender to the flow of the Universe as it moves through our bodies, minds, hearts. In order to practice in this way, it can be helpful to cultivate an attitude of deep curiosity and deep compassion. We are learning over time to treat our mat like a refuge or laboratory where it is safe to explore and discover, to treat ourselves as an excellent host treats a cherished guest, and then to allow the truth of the flow of Life.
This week's reading is a paragraph from a longer piece by Sianna Sherman from Light Pouring from Pens:
And then comes the moment of surrender, not because it's the only thing I can do but because it's the only thing I want to do... It is in this state of surrender where transformation lies and patiently waits for my arrival as a holy guest once more
Enjoy your explorations
This week we're looking deeply into intention and attention... knowing what we most deeply desire in our life and using our practice as an exploration that invites us in that direction in an embodied way. Along the way we may begin to remember that we already are what we are "looking for". Our reading is from yoga teacher Erich Schiffmann: Only what is fully important can be fully compelling. And unless [we] are full, [we] will not experience [our] always-existing Fullness. Pause again and take a look. What are you really after? What do you desire above all else? Look deeply, feel deeply, sense inwardly into yourself... and do not be afraid to be absolutely, beautifully honest.
Before you practice this week, sense inside for your deep heart felt intention or sankalpa, and then let go of agenda and outcome and allow your practice to unfold...
This week, let's consider the difference between being safe or unsafe, and feeling safe or unsafe. In yoga class we practice being safe - with ourselves, and in community with others. Watch for how you armour your body, clench or tighten your eyes, mouth, chest... Look for places you avoid truths that need to be acknowledged (to yourself), or spoken to another.... Notice how you interact with others.... Can we learn to distinguish threat from challenge? To allow what is to be what is, breathe, and respond intelligently from an open, clear, grounded, compassionate stance?
Adapted from Stephen Mead [I have changed they to our - I think it is difficult to truly be open with others when we are not gentle and open with ourselves, or when we continue to think of "them" and "us"]: Therefore do not be afraid to let down your guard and relax with others. Teach others that they are not scary by not being afraid of them. In this way [we] will learn to look out from [our] own gentleness to the gentleness in others.
Enjoy your explorations!
We're continuing to read from Light Pouring from Pens on the poetry of yoga. This week, two bits of yogic humour and wisdom from Bob Weisenberg...
Yoga Tennis: Yoga has transformed my tennis like it has transformed everything else. From the Sutra [Patanjali] I learned to focus on the ball with single-pointed concentration to the exclusion of all distractions. From the [Bhagavad] Gita I learned to play hard like Arjuna the Warrior while detaching my ego from the results. From the Upanishads I learned cosmic exultation that all these diverse molecules can do all these wondrous things together. I no longer throw my racket when I miss an easy shot. I no longer stay depressed for days after losing a match. The only problem is today I was badly beaten because I was distracted writing this poem in my head while I played.
The Meaning of Life - Who Cares? According to the ancient Yoga sages questioning the meaning of life while living is like questioning the meaning of a roller coaster in the middle of a roller coaster ride. Or, like questioning the meaning of love in the middle of lovemaking.
Who cares when something is so amazing?
The amazement IS the meaning. The amazement IS the ultimate reality. The amazement IS the life-force of the universe all around and within us, far beyond our ability to comprehend
The amazement IS what some call God and the ancient sages called Brahman [Indescribable Reality]
In the midst of the ups and downs of life and live just relax, breathe deeply
and experience the infinite thrill of the amazing ride.
Enjoy your senses, your amazing body, and your practice!
Misha Butot RCSW, ERYT 500 is a longtime clinical social worker and senior yoga teacher living in Victoria, BC