January 24, 2012
The second Yama, and focus in classes this week is Satya. This is truthfulness, and is also multifaceted. Being truthful surely means speaking, acting and thinking truthfully. But is also means being true to oneself, and in relationships with others. One of my most memorable teachers, Michael Stone said “It is always best to make decisions using our gut, our heart, or our tongue…and allow the mind to only relay these decisions to ourselves and to others.” This is referring to using our intuition to guide us, and trusting in this process.
Practicing Satya, means being real rather than being nice. How many times do we “sugar coat” things we say out of fear of hurting someones feelings? Satya doesn’t give us permission to be a crabby person, it means coming from a place of authenticity, always being yourself instead of putting on various “hats” for different situations. When we act with Satya, we are the same person in every situation or setting, and being our true selves beneath the make-up and attire. It means doing right the first time, and allowing for the freedom of self-expression.
In Deborah Adele’s book on The Yamas and Niyamas, shes states “Truth rarely seems to ask the easier choice of us. When we are real rather than nice, when we choose self-expression over self-indulgence, when we choose growth over the need to belong, and when we choose fluidity over rigidity, we begin to understand the deeper dynamics of truthfulness, and we begin to taste the freedom and goodness of this jewel.
Living the life that cries to be lived from the depth of our being frees up a lot of energy and vitality. On the other hand, suppressing that life, for whatever reason, takes a lot of our life energy just in the managing of the pretending.
I often hear people say ‘I just don’t know what to do.’ I think more often than not, we do know what to do; the cost of our realness just seems to high at the time.
Truth rarely seems to ask the easier choice of us. In the moment to moment details of our daily living truth asks us to pay attention and to act correctly the first time.
Can you imagine speaking and acting so correctly that you never have to go back and apologize or make a new agreement?
We must be willing to take the risk to tell ourselves the truth and grow ourselves into someone who can trust themselves. Being truthful with ourselves makes us trustworthy, and frees up all the time we normally spend in guilt and regret from our dishonesty.
Because of its marriage to nonviolence, truth has a fluidity about it. There are different flavors the practice of truth takes when it is partnered with the love of nonviolence. The compassion of nonviolence keeps truthfulness from being a personal weapon.
What we believe, whether we are aware of that belief or not, informs everything we do and every choice we make. To be a bold person of truth is to constantly look for what we are not seeing and to expose ourselves to different views than the ones we hold sacred.” As Yogiraj Achala reminds us “What are you not seeing, because you are seeing what you are seeing?”
January 20, 2012
We have begun a new series of teachings in classes this week. For the next 10 weeks, we will be focusing on and practicing with the Yamas and Niyamas. These are two of the eight limbs of Yoga, as described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, and are found in other Yoga texts as well. We know that Yoga is more than something that we get on a mat for. It is also a way of living, a sophisticated system of thought and awareness.
Yamas are moral restraints, these are ethical guidelines that mostly pertain to our relationships between ourselves and other living beings and the earth. Niyamas are personal observances, or ways of balancing your personal practice. There are five precepts in each Yamas and Niyamas, for a total of ten.
This week we have been giving great attention to the first Yama, called Ahimsa. Ahimsa means nonviolence. We can consciously live our lives with compassion for all living things and our environment, as well as with love, acceptance, forgiveness, kindness, gratitude and faith. These qualities are all ways to practice Ahimsa.
We allow ourselves to practice Ahimsa when we cultivate and maintain states of nonviolence in our actions, speech, and even thoughts. There are also many ways in that Ahimsa is disguised.
To live a life free of violence, we must first and foremost find our courage, and balance any feelings of powerlessness.
As well stated by Deborah Adele; author of The Yamas & Niyamas, Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice; “Our ability to stay balanced and courageous has much to do with how we feel about ourselves. If you are critical of yourself, others will feel your high expectations of themselves as well. If you are light hearted and forgiving with yourself, others will feel at ease and joy of being with you. If you find laughter and delight in yourself, others will be healed in your presence.
Finding this love for all the parts of ourselves means we have to forgive ourselves. We need to trust suffering and trust challenge and trust mistakes; they are all what refine us when we don’t run from them.
Thinking we know what is better for others becomes a subtle way we do violence. Nonviolence asks us to trust in the other’s ability to find the answer they are seeking. It asks us to have faith in the other, not feel sorry for them. Nonviolence asks us to trust the other’s journey and love and support others to their highest image of themselves, not our highest image of them.
There is nothing to fix or save in another; there is only the gift of listening.
Worry is another way violence gets masked ask caring. Worry is a lack of faith in the other and cannot exist simultaneously with love. Either we have faith in the other person to do their best, or we don’t. Worry says I don’t trust you to do your life right.
We learn compassion as we dissolve our personal version of the world, and grow gentle eyes that are not afraid to see reality as it is. We learn compassion as we stop living in our heads, where we can neatly arrange things, and ground ourselves in our bodies, where things might not be so neat.
Whatever we find ourselves engaged in, this jewel of Ahimsa, or nonviolence, asks us to step lightly, do no harm, and to honor the relationship we have with the earth, with each other, and with ourselves.”
January 15, 2012
This is perhaps my most important post yet to date. Please allow yourself the time to read, and absorb this.
Our local Yoga community (Charlotte area) is experiencing a shift in energies. All over our country, more and more teachers are being born, and studios have been popping up with vigor over the past few years. Many studios have had to become more competitive in a “pursuit of business”, rather than fully understanding, and/or honoring the pure heart of Yoga, and its rich moral and ethical guidelines. This is a natural result of this tremendous growth, which like all change is not to be judged as ‘right or wrong’, ‘good or bad’. It just simply, ‘is’.
When I came back to teaching in the Spring of last year, I was able to see this clearly from an objective view. After sitting with much time in meditation and concentration, I have responded by offering to locally teach Yoga philosophy. This is where our ‘Western Yoga’ has strayed the most. I accept teaching as a great honor, and know for sure that teaching Yoga is my life’s purpose and calling. You can rest assured that for as long as I am breathing in this body, I will be teaching Yoga. 😉
In part of teaching Yoga, I hold in high regard; that this is a lifestyle, and not simply something that is a temporary ‘feel good’ practice. Especially in this country, it is easy to view Yoga as something that we get on our mats to do, breathe, sweat and then feel fantastic after doing so. The truth in the matter…is that we use the body as a tool to peel off all of our outer layers until we can clearly see what resides deep within ourselves. This is not my personal philosophy…but rather documented teachings throughout the history of Yoga. Yoga is more than the uniting of body, mind, and spirit. It is the inherent realization that we are all united at our deepest core, and this deepest core space is pure, peaceful, and radiant. That is what we get a glimpse of every time we devote ourselves to the practice. It’s truly beautiful, isn’t it?
I invite you all to educate yourselves about Yoga philosophy and teachings. These Yogic teachings have the power to illuminate your personal path in life, in a way that makes sense for your life today. But they also have to be put to practice. In order to put them to practice, you have to know what they are.
One very important, and prominent teaching from the late Yoga Master, Sri Pattabhi Jois is “Do the practice, and all is coming.” Do the practice…means so much more than showing up on your mat. All is coming. “Do the practice, and all is coming.” As long as the energy, and intention that you put out into the world is pure…this purity will be returned back to you. Glorious!
Because I hold Yoga teachings so dear, and the moral and ethical guidelines with such high regard, I have decided to depart/resign from regularly teaching at Gotta Yoga Studio. This studio, like others in our area; are experiencing this cosmic shift and when it comes down to it, they are all businesses. I am honoring my heart, and the heart of Yoga by no longer considering myself as an affiliated teacher of Gotta Yoga, or any other studio individually.
I have been, and continue to be good friends with the studio owner, and with fellow teachers there. Gotta Yoga Studio has been a wonderfully supportive place for me to teach, to practice, and to grow with. I am certain in my heart that I am being true to my Self and this practice with this departure. With all of my being, this decision feels honorable, light and pure. My last weekly class offering at Gotta Yoga this Wednesday, February 18th.
With that being said, I will however continue to offer the free (donation-only) ‘Yoga Philosophy Study’ group once-monthly at Gotta Yoga (begins tonight), and possibly at other locales this year.
All classes at the Highland Creek Sports Club will remain unchanged. My full teaching schedule is always posted on my website. www.DivineShantiYoga.com
As always, I am eternally thankful for all of you. Many times you are the reflection that shines my light back unto me. I am a teacher, because you receive my offerings. From my deepest heart-space to yours; thank you. Namaste’
And I look forward to seeing you in classes very soon. Shine on!
“Do the practice, and all is coming.” ~ Sri Pattabhi Jois
January 3, 2012
Self-commit to a year long Yoga philosophy study and meditation group. This is not as Asana (posture) class, but rather a discussion and guided meditation. It’s also by donation-only. So, give what you can, if you can.
Join us every 3rd Sunday of each month at Gotta Yoga Studio (University location) at 6:30-7:30pm. First meet-up February 15th!
No experience or Yoga attire necessary, come as you are! We will discuss ancient Yogic texts, teachings and philosophy and how they relate to our lives today. Deepen your understanding of Yoga, and enhance your practice.
You do not want to miss this each month! Bring a journal for note-taking, if desired.
Yoga teachers who attend every class for the year are eligible for continuing education credits. Led by Angie Benton, E-RYT200, RYT500.