Monday, July 28, 2008

I Am My Own own guru

Since my inception to Yoga some year and a bit ago I have grown...and then shrunk...and then I have grown again. These are the stages of our lives. We go through periods of ups and downs... we all know this. In this past year I have found myself enlightened (even if slightly) and then just as confused by Yoga. At times my practice is clear and concise. I'm consistent with my asana practice. I practice my meditation 3-4 days a week. I do breath work on a regular basis. And then there are times when I find myself making excuses not to step onto my mat. I am easily distracted away from my meditative state. And while practicing my Kapala Bhati, breath is the furthest thing from my mind.

I am currently working through a really amazing book that is helping to put my practice into a wide screen, director's cut kind of view. Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates has been a hand reaching through the muck to help me out of some deep muddy pits. The book consists of 365 essays meant to be read day by day. Unfortunately I find my self not always with time to read a chapter so I opt for reading as much as I can, when I can. It's a wicked book full of so much insight. It deals with Rolf's insight on the Yamas and Niyamas as it has related to situations and scenarios in his own life. Simple fact is, is that we all go through some of the same types of situations. And having a book of stories about how one man has dealt with his life stresses is great as a reference for someone like me, on this path of Yoga.

I recently read chapter 44 which talks about "Right Action". Gates talks of his plans to meet with a financial planner but just kept putting it off. He finally takes this "Right Action" and wastes no more time getting his finances into balance. He says that, "It's about our actions and not our good intentions. If we want self-esteem, we must do estimable things." He goes on to say that we must not wait for that "feeling-good" momentum to start our "Right Action". "If you want to meditate, staple your butt to the cushion; sooner or later your mind will quiet down." What great advice.

Since reading this I have found myself lifted up once more out of the mud. I taught my first workshop Yesterday... and it felt amazing. I had a great turn-out, mostly beginners. The 3 hour workshop focused on breaking down the movements of the Ashtanga Sun Salutations A & B and then stringing the movements together into the beautiful dance that is Surya Namaskar. I spent an hour just teaching Ujjayi Pranayama until everyone in the room felt pretty comfortable...and then we began!! I love teaching... I always have.

When I started to get really good at the drums and people asked me about what I knew, I would graciously share my experiences and knowledge. When I started to become very proficient at weight training people in the gym would always ask me about my workouts...and once again I was more than willing to help and teach technique and focus. Now that it comes to Yoga I find myself always answering questions from students and non-students. I could go on for hours answering these inquiries. And knowing that I don't have the answer all the time.

This is where chapter 44 comes in...right action...I love to learn and it's time to take right action...I have decided that learning and teaching Yoga is my calling...I feel a deep resonance with this path in life. No matter the ups or downs...Yoga is there...Yoga is consistently bringing me back up and reminding me of my capabilities. It helps bring me back to my mat, back to my Zafu and back to my breath. It helps bring me back into my relationships and helps take me out of my ego.

All right...time for some more Right Action!! Time to go work Jump Throughs!!

"Take up space, be grand, act great!"
-Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat; pg59

I'd like to dedicate this entry to my new niece or nephew... not sure until tomorrow!!


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

i free like child

*this is an excerpt from a shpeel that I used for class on Wed. June 25th*

Today's class is about having fun... And I don't say that as to imply that we don't have fun here... It's all about the play... It's all about coming here and hangin' out with each other... We come... We do some poses... We stretch... We laugh... We breathe... You come here every Wednesday... And the great thing is that you commit yourself to coming... You make the commitment to show up and sometimes that's the hardest part... To show up. You commit yourself to taking time out of life's busy nature... To taking time to play!!!

It's all about getting that feeling back... It's about getting back that awareness...

Just think, for a second, about the life of a child... Perhaps even your own child... Or maybe a niece or nephew... Possibly a friends child just to cover all the bases!
These children that possess unbound awareness in everything that they see, hear, touch, smell, taste... Everything is new... Every moment, every second, every breath is a learning experience... Somewhere along the way most of us lose that connection to awareness... We play everything off like we've seen it before... We lose that ability to treat every moment as a chance to learn something new.

And this is one of the wonders of Yoga... It's purpose is to reconnect us with that awareness... To help us smell every scent, hear every sound, see every sight and really take the time to breathe and appreciate every breath... And as we get more connected to awareness we allow ourselves to play freely without fear... Without a sense of foolishness... Being mindful and deeply rooted in our practice but allowing ourselves to "Play the edge" just a little bit... Be like a child. Willing to step near the edge and play. Flirt with the unknown momentarily.

It's about trying to get as close as possible to that line that separates Will and Surrender... Having the willingness to try and do these poses... Having the willingness to really challenge your physical body, the willingness to challenge your "mental" by staying connected to the practice and to the breath... But, at the same time, being able to surrender the body and the mind... Surrender to the possibilities of not only Yoga itself but more importantly surrender your body and mind to the possibilities of You... The endless nature of your capabilities...

Once we can play at the edge without fear of possibilities...without fear of outcome... by surrendering all of our efforts to something higher than our need to succeed... once we can let go... childlike freedom is ours!!!

So I invite you children of young and old.... PLAY!!!!